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The disaster is near. Sweden admits failure on COVID

The second wave of the pandemic is rising in the Scandinavian country, contrary to the forecasts of the authorities, who have chosen a unique path to confront the coronavirus.

The Swedish authorities have admitted that their experiment of confronting the coronavirus pandemic without quarantine has failed. The expected herd immunity did not arise and could not prevent an increase in the epidemic in the fall — Sweden was covered by a second wave.

Until October, this country had one of the lowest disease rates in Europe; there were days when no one among the inhabitants of Sweden died of COVID-19. Against this background, the WHO used the Swedish model as an example.

Sweden in free fall

The Swedish Public Health Agency has admitted that its forecast for the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the country in the fall was wrong.

Sweden's chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, who became the ideologist of the world-condemned Swedish model, believed that in the fall the epidemiological situation in the country would be better than that of its neighbors who imposed quarantine restrictions, thanks to the development of herd immunity.

In fact, it turned out that the number of hospitalized with COVID-19 in Sweden is now growing faster than in any other country in Europe, writes the Financial Times. Every fifth test in Stockholm is positive.

Swedish virologist Lena Einhorn, who initially criticized the government's chosen strategy to deal with the pandemic, considers the approach a failure.

“Four days ago we had eight times more cases [of coronavirus infection] per capita than Finland and 3.5 times more than Norway. And their situation in the fall should have been worse because we have immunity should have appeared, “Einhorn said.

In the spring, when countries introduced lockdown one by one, Sweden, as well as Belarus, decided to go their own way — without any tough restrictions. If the Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko denied the danger of the virus, in Sweden they hoped to develop collective immunity.

Herd immunity is a state of a population when most of it becomes resistant to disease, thereby protecting the rest who have no immunity. According to various estimates, for its appearance, it is necessary that 40-60 percent of the population get sick with the virus. It was believed that such figures would be achieved in the summer.

However, in June, Chief Epidemiologist Tegnell did admit that the country's COVID-19 strategy had led to an excessive number of deaths, primarily among the elderly and in nursing homes. In July, Sweden set up a commission to investigate the government's approach to the fight against coronavirus.

At the same time, in October, when European countries began to return to strict quarantines due to the second wave of the pandemic, the situation in Sweden was relatively stable, and many believed that in reality, the Swedish strategy was working.

The New York Times wrote that the Swedish authorities and society have done more to combat the pandemic than many might think at first glance. It was noted that the main thing in which the Swedes were right was that the coronavirus will remain for a long time, therefore, destroying the economy and endangering the stability of the entire society is completely unacceptable.

The Economist magazine then noted that Sweden had five times more deaths per capita than neighboring Denmark and about ten times more than Finland or Norway, but because of this, the second wave did not come.

But they failed to save the economy, despite the fact that it is one of the strongest in Europe. Revenue in the second quarter of 2020 alone declined 8.3 percent, the worst rate of any other Scandinavian country. For other pros and cons in Sweden's COVID-19 Strategy.

The backbone of the Swedish strategy is extensive testing and contact tracing, as well as voluntariness. In mid-October, when it became clear that the second wave would nevertheless come in Sweden, the authorities began to change their approach.

The new rules allow regional health authorities to ask citizens to avoid public places such as shopping malls, museums, libraries, swimming pools, concerts, and gyms.

Citizens may also be asked to stay away from public transport or avoid visiting older people or other risk groups. The rules are for guidance only and are not a requirement. Of course, no fines are introduced either.

Spring history repeats itself — the situation is better again in neighboring countries. In recent years, the infection rate in Denmark has been half and in Norway less than a third of the Swedish figure. Finns have the smallest number of new cases of COVID-19 on the continent — ten times less than in Sweden, Der Spiegel notes.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Leuven issued a warning this week that the situation will get worse, so everyone must respond.

As a concrete measure, he announced a new law passed by parliament, limiting the maximum number of people meeting in a public place to eight people, including cinemas, theaters, and religious gatherings. Also, schools may be closed.

However, wearing masks is not recommended. In Sweden, their effectiveness is considered unproven by science to a sufficient extent. “Masks, in his opinion, create a false sense of security,” Tegnell says.

Tegnell's opponents in Sweden are very few, writes Der Spiegel. It includes some professors and doctors who have joined the COVID-19 Science Forum. 27 of them recently published an appeal in the newspaper Aftonbladet demanding “radical measures” against the pandemic.

“The catastrophe is approaching,” the experts wrote. They quoted the manager of a hospital in the university city of Uppsala: “We are in free fall, the situation is much worse than in the spring.”

To date, in 10 million Sweden, 200 thousand cases of coronavirus infection have been detected, of which 6.3 thousand were fatal. Over the past day, 3.5 thousand new cases were recorded. The record was set on October 13, when almost seven thousand infected were found.

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