'Delay and Inadequacy': Prof Blasts Sweden's 'Deliberate Spread' of COVID-19
According to professor Göran Svensson, a misguided strategy, coupled with a failure to implement drastic measures, has resulted in Sweden becoming an outlier among its peers with regards to COVID morbidity and mortality.
Sweden's standalone handling of the COVID-19 pandemic – when the Nordic nation, unlike its neighbours and most of the world, continued to live in a largely business-as-usual mode, only recommending that its citizens wash their hands and keep their distance – is being scrutinised amid criticism.
Professor Göran Svensson at Kristiania University College, who has been investigating the connection between the number of infected, sick and dead using the Swedish example, is very critical of the country's actions, which resulted in a death toll nine times higher than in neighbouring Norway.
According to him, it was impossible that the Swedish Public Health Authority, with its 500 employees, was unaware of what consequences of the spread of infection would have for morbidity and mortality.
“No spread of infection is equal to no sick and dead. The health data clearly showed that in line with increased spread of infection, sickness and mortality also increased almost linearly. That is to say, the connection is very clear. Since the start of the pandemic, Sweden has had a higher spread of infection than neighbouring countries, week after week,” Svensson told
the science portal Forskning. “The connections are frighteningly strong. It was thus entirely possible to predict how many will become ill, and how many will die, when the infection is at a given level,” he said.
Furthermore, he maintained that the idea behind Sweden's initial unobtrusive strategy, despite its conflicting messaging and subsequent denial, was to achieve herd immunity.
“This means that the strategy was based on the deliberate spread of the virus, even though the government publicly denies this. There was no experience to suggest that the alleged herd immunity should arise. After more than 18 months, it was still absent,” Svensson said.
The professor argued that Sweden handled the corona as a flu virus and not a pandemic virus. In particular, he called the virus reaching elderly homes on 1 April, barely two weeks after the authorities pledged measures to protect the old and frail, a “bad April Fool's joke”.
“With a population of 1.4 billion, China took the sledgehammer, while Sweden took the smallest tweezers in the toolbox,” the researcher said.
In Sweden, the government handed over the responsibility to the Public Health Authority, which in turn contented itself with giving recommendations, without injunction, to the Swedish population.
“So it was the population itself that got the responsibility, instead of the government shouldering it,” Svensson commented.
Per capita, the death toll in Sweden is at the same level as South Africa and Iran, despite the fact that the country has a well-developed economy with a small, sparsely populated population, Forskning noted.
17 December 2020, 10:01 GMT
“The consequences of exposing the population to illness and death have been downgraded, underestimated, and worst of all, perhaps neglected by the Public Health Authority,” Svensson argued. “This means that several thousand lost their lives unnecessarily, and many more have become ill than if the Swedish handling wasn't characterised by delay and inadequacy,” the researcher concluded.
All in all, Sweden has seen 1.17 million cases of COVID, with over 15,000 deaths, more than the rest of the Scandinavia combined. By contrast, neighbouring Norway, which has more or less similar or same conditions, had merely 204,000 cases of COVID, with only 900 deaths.