While the advance of the coronavirus in Sweden becomes more and more palpable, Anders Tegnell, the designer of the Scandinavian country’s lax policy in the face of the pandemic, admitted that they are experiencing a significant new spread in all regions. “The situation is more serious than we thought“acknowledged the chief epidemiologist of the Public Health Agency (FOHM).
Tegnell had previously predicted that the number of infections in the Swedish spring would be “quite low” due to the anti-confinement policy carried out by the country. But it was not like that.
The number of admitted patients doubled, one out of every three beds in intensive care correspond to patients with the virus and this Friday the record of infected in one day (5,990) was broken, while 42 deaths were registered in the last 24 hours , highest figure since early June.
“In autumn there will be a second wave. Sweden will have a high level of immunity and the number of cases will probably be quite low,” Tegnell had told the Financial Times in May, when the situation was under control and the country registered infections at levels below those of your neighbors.
But nevertheless, Sweden registered 485.3 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days. Although it is located in number 20 of 31 countries in Europe and still far from the most punished, they represent almost double that of Denmark and three times more than Norway, when last month it presented better numbers than both, according to data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
“I don’t think definition is that important, but we see that the community is spreading in many regions simultaneously right now“Tegnell said now at a press conference, recognizing the mistakes made.
“The capacity at the national level is still good”, highlighted this week the head of emergencies of the Directorate of Social Affairs, Johanna Sandwall, pointing out that there is still 30% of free places in intensive care and that the starting point in terms of resources is much better than in spring.
Tegnell insisted along the same lines, emphasizing that the situation in hospitals is “under control” and that Sweden is at a different stage on the curve than most of Europe, where the explosion of cases already occurred in late summer and is now beginning to slow down.
The virus advances mercilessly in Sweden
In 17 of the twenty-one Swedish regions, the authorities already recommend minimizing contacts outside the family circle, working from home and avoiding commercial establishments, and a dozen, including Stockholm, reported infections in nursing homes and reported that their ability to test is to the limit.
The Swedish Prime Minister, the Social Democrat Stefan Löfven, warned days ago that “dark times” are coming and that the indicators are pointing “in the wrong direction”, while announcing the prohibition of the sale of alcohol from 10 pm and the advance of the closure of these establishments at 10.30 pm.
Although it is a measure similar to that adopted by many countries, it clashes in the context of Sweden, whose strategy was based from the beginning on appealing to individual responsibility, with many recommendations and few prohibitions, such as visits to nursing homes or restrictions audience at events, both modified in early fall.
Despite regrowth, chinstraps are not used nor is isolation decreed
The authorities reiterated, however, that the strategy, set by the FOHM, remains firm and that tougher restrictions were not contemplated in public life as Denmark or Norway did, with fewer infections than Sweden.
If both countries applied strict isolation from public life in the spring, including schools and hotels, Sweden always kept schools, nurseries, bars, restaurants and shops open, although with some restrictions, and did not close its borders to space countries at any time Schengen nor set quarantines.
Unlike its neighbors, who since September abandoned their initial reluctance and advised or made the use of chinstraps mandatory in some situations, Sweden has not changed its position, beyond the forced use by staff in hospitals or nursing homes, reiterating that the main thing is hygiene and keeping your distance.
“Believing that masks are going to be salvation is dangerous”, said this week in an interview with Dagens Nyheter, the main Swedish daily, Tegnell, pointing out that they give a false sense of security and that in countries with the strictest rules, an extensive spread of the virus has not been prevented.
Tracking and herd immunity
The deficiencies in the contact tracing system was another of the most discussed points of the strategy, which was once again at the center of the controversy, although the polls indicate that it continues to have the support of the majority of the population.
The high mortality and the difference with respect to the rest of the Nordics already provoked harsh criticism from the opposition to the Government and some experts, especially from outside Sweden, at the beginning of summer, accusing the health authorities of seeking herd immunity, something that they have always denied.
Suspicions resurfaced this week with the advancement of a book revealing an email exchange between Tegnell and another expert hinting at a bid for group immunity.
“Decisions are made in a process in which a joint analysis is made, they are not made by officials in conversations by mail or in meetings with external people”, defended the director of the FOHM, Johan Carlson