The top epidemiologist in Sweden believes the country’s strategy to fight coronavirus has resulted in too many casualties, following his push for a less strict lockdown, reports National Post.
“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 during a Swedish Radio interview.
Tegnell was behind the controversial approach taken by Sweden in fighting coronavirus. Gatherings of over 50 people are still banned in Sweden but the country has allowed people to continue visiting restaurants, going to gyms, shopping and sending children below 16 to school.
Many people were divided on the unique approach though the country’s death toll shows that it may have been the wrong strategy.
Sweden has had a mortality rate of 43 deaths per 100,000 which is among the higher rates around the world. It is also far higher than neighbouring countries—Norway and Denmark, which had much stricter lockdown measures put into place when the pandemic began.
“Clearly, there is potential for improvement in what we have done in Sweden,” Tegnell said.
Some government members did not agree with the comments. Lena Hallengren, Sweden’s minister of health and social affairs said Tegnell “still can’t give an exact answer on what other measures should have been taken. That question remains, I think.”
Tegnall had originally given the argument that a more sustainable response to the pandemic was required as opposed to a sudden lockdown. The strategy was criticized by many countries but received much support in Sweden.
As many countries in the European Union begin to cut down on their lockdown efforts and seemingly gain more control over COVID-19 Sweden may not be as involved in the reopening process as access to some EU countries is restricted to “high-risk” coronavirus zones.
There is also not much evidence to suggest that the country's efforts to leave a large portion of the Sweden open will be a big support to the economy. According to Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson, Sweden may be seeing the worst economic crisis it has seen since World War II, as GDP is set to hit 7 percent in 2020.
Jimmie Akesson, the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats leader said in a tweet that Tegnell’s comments are “astonishing.”
“For months, critics have been consistently dismissed. Sweden has done everything right, the rest of the world has done it wrong. And now, suddenly, this,” Akesson said.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said on Monday that an inquiry into the way the crisis is being handled will take place before the summer.