SWEDEN’S coronavirus death rate is soaring past America’s to rate among the world’s worst as its experts warn “don’t dodge lockdown like we did”.
But their stinging criticism flies in the face of Sweden’s top epidemiologist who swears the virus is waning, and the country’s strategy is working.
Twenty-five Swedish doctors and scientists write that “motives for the Swedish Public Health Agency’s light-touch approach are somewhat of a mystery”.
In a no holds barred opinion piece for USA Today, they warned of “an unwillingness to admit early mistakes and take responsibility for thousands of unnecessary deaths.
“At the moment, we have set an example for the rest of the world on how not to deal with a deadly infectious disease.”
Criticising Sweden’s infamous soft approach to the pandemic, lack of national lockdown, and bid for herd immunity, they said: “The strategy has led to death, grief and suffering.
“And on top of that there are no indications that the Swedish economy has fared better than in many other countries.”
The experts added: “Some other countries that initially used this strategy swiftly abandoned it as the death toll began to increase, opting instead for delayed lockdowns.
“But Sweden has been faithful to its approach.
“Why? Gaining herd immunity, where large numbers of the population (preferably younger) are infected and thereby develop immunity, has not been an official goal of the agency.
“But it has said immunity in the population could help suppress the spread of the disease, and some agency statements suggest it is the secret goal.”
The experts point out health bosses have “insisted on mandatory schooling for young children” downplayed the importance of testing, “refused to acknowledge the importance of asymptomatic spread of the virus and still refuses to recommend masks in public”.
But, “the proportion of Swedes carrying antibodies is estimated to be under 10 per cent, thus nowhere near herd immunity.
“And yet, the Swedish death rate is unnerving.
“Sweden has a death toll [rate]greater than the United States: 556 deaths per million inhabitants, compared with 425, as of July 20,” they warned.
The country’s per capita coronavirus death toll is among the highest in the world, they wrote.
Sweden’s total death tally stands at 5,667, but relative to the size of its population, the number of people who have died is in line with countries which have seen far bigger outbreaks – like the US.
A table prepared by Statista on coronavirus deaths worldwide per one million population, as of July 23, shows that the US is currently recording 437 deaths per million people.
Sweden is the fifth worse country for coronavirus death rates in the world, behind Italy (4th) Spain, the UK and Belgium – top with 858 Covid-19 deaths per million people.
Sweden also has a “death toll more than four and a half times greater than that of the other four Nordic countries combined – more than seven times greater per million inhabitants.
“For a number of weeks, Sweden has been among the top in the world when it comes to current reported deaths per capita.
“Despite this, the strategy in essence remains the same,” the experts wrote.
They recommend other experts use “Sweden as a control group and answer the question of how efficient the voluntary distancing and loose measures in Sweden are compared to lockdowns, aggressive testing, tracing and the use of masks.”
On Tuesday chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of the Public Health Agency insisted that Sweden had reached relatively widespread immunity.
He said: “The epidemic is now being slowed down, in a way that I think few of us would have believed a week or so ago.”
Daily Covid-19 death rates as well as the number of infected in intensive care have been slowing gradually since April, with seven new deaths and no new ICU admissions reported by the health agency.
“It is possible to slow contagion fast with the measures we are taking in Sweden.
“We have managed to do it with substantially less invasive measures,” he said.