For the first time since the pandemic, the Swedish government announced the possibility of introducing severe restrictive measures in the country. The number of people infected with coronavirus in the kingdom has exceeded 200 thousand people. 6,340 patients died. These figures are significantly worse than in other Scandinavian countries.
Many experts believe that the Swedish authorities made a mistake in agreeing with the strategy proposed back in the spring by Sweden’s chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell. This is described in the article “The Swedish Failure”, published on November 18 in German magazine Der Spiegel… “FACTS” prepared its complete translation.
“The second wave of coronavirus is rising in Sweden, and this is happening contrary to the forecasts of the state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell. Now the government has to take harsh measures – including the closure of schools.
Everything seemed to be going well in Sweden last month… “Sweden was right!” – wrote on Twitter high-tech billionaire Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX. Musk attached a graph with data on deaths from coronavirus in Sweden to his short message. After a powerful burst in the spring, the curve was slightly above the zero axis.
Many, like Musk, thought the Scandinavian country’s special path should fully justify itself this fall. Led by their state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, the Swedes largely believed they could overcome the pandemic with only a few constraints – public prudence instead of coercion and lockdown.
Until three weeks ago, Tegnell argued: “There is no second wave.” However, COVID-19 has already spread in many parts of the country. Today there is no longer any doubt: a second wave is rising in Sweden, and the number of deaths from the coronavirus is gradually increasing again.
Both Tegnell and his head at the Ministry of Public Health were wrong, as did the Swedish government as a whole in giving them free rein. They may have had good intentions, but their strategy failed at a crucial point. It was planned that the majority of the population would quickly develop immunity while protecting risk groups. But it didn’t work.
It is especially painful for the Swedes that spring history is now repeating itself. In neighboring countries, the situation is again better. In recent years, the infection rate in Denmark has been half and in Norway less than a third of the Swedish figure. The Finns have been acting as a model country in Europe in recent weeks. The lowest number of new cases of coronavirus infection is registered there – 10 times less than in Sweden.
On Monday, November 16, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Leuven spoke gloomily in front of the cameras. The situation will get worse, so everyone must retaliate, he said. As a concrete measure, he announced a new law passed by parliament this week limiting the maximum number of people meeting in a public place to 8, including cinemas, theaters and religious gatherings. Education Minister Anna Ekstrem considers the closure of schools to be an acceptable measure.
However, Sweden’s special path is not entirely in the past. State epidemiologist Tegnell still refuses to recommend wearing masks. He believes that their effectiveness has not been sufficiently proven by science, and “it is very dangerous to think that masks help in principle.” Masks, in his opinion, create a false sense of security.
It was this stubbornness that contributed significantly to Tegnell’s popularity. A few weeks ago, he calmly said that he had not yet been tested for the virus, because the danger for him was supposedly small. “It is much more dangerous to cross the road in the city at a pedestrian crossing”Tegnell said. Many of his fellow citizens listen to this with pleasure. Therefore, people in Sweden still do not fully realize how blatantly the state epidemiologist was wrong in his predictions.
Tegnell’s group of opponents in Sweden is surprisingly small. It includes some of the professors and doctors who have joined the COVID-19 Science Forum. 27 of them recently published an appeal in the Aftonbladet newspaper demanding the introduction of “radical measures against the pandemic.”
“The Catastrophe Is Coming”, – the experts emphasized. They quoted the head physician of a hospital in the university city of Uppsala: “We’re in free fall. The situation is much worse than in the spring ”.
Meanwhile, an ardent fan of the “Swedish special way” Elon Musk has to heal himself for COVID-19. He contracted the virus a few days ago when he was visiting his longtime friend. This man is currently serving as the US Ambassador to Stockholm. He threw a loud birthday party at the castle on the banks of Lake Elmaren. “
Recall that in the summer the Swedes found themselves in the role of outcasts for many countries of the European Union and the Schengen zone. They did not want to see them in any of the European states.
Translation by Igor KOZLOV, “FACTS” (original by Dietmar Pieper / Der Spiegel)