Criticism is mounting in Sweden of the government’s approach to Covid-19, with experts warning that its strategy of building broad immunity while protecting at-risk groups – similar to that initially adopted by the UK – amounted to “Russian roulette” and could end in disaster.
The prime minister, Stefan Löfven, on Sunday night called on all Swedes to accept individual responsibility in stopping the rapid spread of the virus as the number of patients in intensive care in Stockholm continued to rise sharply.
“There will be a few decisive moments in life when you must make sacrifices, not only for your own sake but also for those around you, for your fellow humans and for our country,” Löfven said in a rare public address. “That moment is now.”
But while the prime minister said “more invasive decisions” may yet come, he announced no further restrictions. “Everyone must do their part,” he said. “I understand it’s frustrating … But right now it is necessary.”
Sweden, which has reported 1,906 confirmed coronavirus cases and 21 deaths, has shut universities and senior high schools, banned gatherings of more than 500, asked all citizens to avoid non-essential travel and advised those who feel ill and are aged over 70 to stay at home.
Unlike most EU countries, however – including its Nordic neighbours Denmark, Norway and Finland – Sweden has not introduced stricter suppression and social distancing orders such as mass shop and lower-school closures, nor has it placed citizens in near-total lockdown, as in Italy, Spain and France.
Sweden’s chief epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, has denied the country’s approach is to rapidly build group immunity to the virus, a tactic seemingly pursued in Britain and the Netherlands until both recently changed tack after warnings that their health systems could be overwhelmed and death tolls would soar.
But Tegnell conceded to the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper last week that such an objective was “not contradictory” with what he described as the government’s core strategy, which was to ensure “a slow spread of infection, and that the health services have a reasonable workload”.
On Sunday night, Tegnell told Swedish TV the outbreak would “calm down” in May but return in the autumn. “It will be important how much of the population is infected,” he said. “It will determine what happens in the autumn.” Coronavirus could be stopped either by “herd immunity, or a combination of immunity and vaccination”, he said. “It’s basically the same thing.”
Swedish health professionals are increasingly expressing concern that the government may be favouring the health of the economy over that of the public. Leading experts last week were fiercely critical of the Swedish public health authority in an email thread seen by state broadcaster SVT, accusing it of incompetence and lack of medical expertise.
“I’m deeply concerned,” Fredrik Elgh, a virology professor at Umeå University, told SVT. “I’d rather Stockholm was quarantined. We are almost the only country in the world not…
Source Website Swedish PM warned over ‘Russian roulette-style’ Covid-19 strategy | World news