Official Admits Sweden Should Have Done Things Differently

Sweden’s chief epidemiologist, Ander Tegnell, criticized other countries for having strict lockdowns — like the U.S. has experienced. He was so disparaging of Italy’s strong response that the Italian ambassador publicly reprimanded him twice.

Dr. Tegnell thought it was unsustainable to expect people to stay away from one another. The government believed that its measures were better for the fact that this pandemic is going to linger for a long time. The plan was made thinking that the fight against the virus is a “marathon, not a sprint.” Now, he has admitted that Sweden’s high death rate could have been avoided with more action. His admission is a breath of fresh air when many would never have owned their own misstep.

Sweden’s death rate per capita was the highest in the world between May 26th and June 2nd. When asked what should have been done differently, he said, “If we were to encounter the same disease again knowing exactly what we know about it today, I think we would settle on doing something in between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world has done… [it would be] good to know exactly what to shut down to curb the spread of infection better.

In an interview, he said he believed that the country’s strategy was correct, based on what they knew. But that, in retrospect, it could have been handled better. The country’s policy shut schools for people over the age of 16. They banned group gatherings of more than 50 people. Still, They never ordered people to limit their non-essential trips outside their homes. Bars, gyms and shops stayed open. This endangered many and care homes, which remained mostly open to visitors, suffered for it.

While Norway and Denmark have opened their borders to each other, they are excluding Sweden. Norway’s public health chief, Frode Forland, believes the real problem lies in the fact that Sweden relied too much on historical models of viruses. COVID-19 is too new to compare to other illnesses. The death rate in Sweden was eight times higher than Denmark and 19 times higher than Norway. It is only double the size of the other countries.

Others say he still hasn’t admitted how poorly the pandemic was handled. His predecessor, Annike Linde, said, “There was no strategy at all for the elderly, I now understand. I do not understand how they can stand and say the level of preparedness was good, when, in fact, it was lousy.”

Bjorn Olsen, a professor of infectious medicine at Uppsala Univ. and one of Sweden’s leading researchers of pandemics, said, “I know that many countries looked at Sweden as a good example of an open society. We had a relatively low number of cases. And then it started to skyrocket. We understood absolutely nothing.”

One step that Sweden has taken to fix their problem is giving free testing to anyone who has symptoms and conducting contract tracing for everyone infected. That could be a massive move in the right direction to try and help the country get back on track.

Seeing how much safer Denmark and Norway have been, makes us wonder how much worse America would have been had we not locked down. We miss gatherings, hugging people without a second thought and shopping without worry. However, we would rather be safe than sorry. We hope that all countries around the world continue to take steps to make their citizens safer and get us back to some semblance of normal life soon.
June 05, 2020
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