Photo: Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s top epidemiologist
Sweden’s top epidemiologist says more should have been done in his country to tackle Covid-19 at the start of the outbreak, in order to keep the death rate down.
“If we were to encounter the same illness with the same knowledge that we have today, I think our response would land somewhere in between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world has done,” Anders Tegnell said in an interview with Swedish Radio.
Tegnell is the brains behind Sweden’s controversial approach to fighting the virus, and the government of Stefan Lofven has deferred to the epidemiologist in its official response to the pandemic. Gatherings of more than 50 people continue to be banned, but throughout the crisis Swedes have been able to visit restaurants, go shopping, attend gyms and send children under 16 to school.
The laxer approach to containing the virus has drawn both praise and indignation from across the globe. What is beyond debate, however, is the effect the strategy has had on the country’s death toll.
At 43 deaths per 100,000, Sweden’s death rate is among the highest globally and far exceeds that of neighbouring Denmark and Norway, which imposed much tougher lockdowns at the outset of the pandemic.
Now, Tegnell has for the first time admitted publicly that the strategy is resulting in too many deaths.
“Clearly, there is potential for improvement in what we have done in Sweden,” he said.