- Sweden has a higher death rate from the COVID-19 virus than neighboring countries.
- Instead, Sweden insisted on working from home as much as possible, paying attention to hygiene, and maintaining social distance.
- Experts say it is too early to say whether Sweden has chosen the right path.
Sweden, one of Europe’s leading economies, has not closed shops or schools, and has not imposed strict quarantine measures. Anders Tegnell, the country’s leading epidemiologist in charge of policy against the coronavirus pandemic, has admitted that Sweden made a mistake.
Sweden has a higher death rate from the COVID-19 virus than neighboring countries, and as a result, neighboring countries closed the border to the Swedes.
“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,” Tegnell told Sveriges Radio on Wednesday. He added it would be “good to know exactly what to shut down to curb the spread of infection better.”
In Sweden, a country of ten million people, nearly 42,000 people have been infected and 4,562 have died. Among Sweden’s neighbors, the virus has killed 586 people in Denmark, 238 in Norway, and 322 in Finland. Admitting that too many people had died, Tegnell said Sweden’s anti-coronavirus strategy could not be “completely ruled out” as a potential contributing factor.
“There is potential for improvement in what we have done in Sweden, quite clearly,” he said in the radio interview.
“The Swedish Way”
Efforts by countries around the world to resolve the crisis are diverse. It is unclear how effective such steps will be. At this point, the question is whether the economy can be saved. Many states have chosen strict quarantine measures. The move saved lives but plunged the economy into a quagmire.
Sweden, on the other hand, has rejected strict quarantine. Instead, Sweden insisted on working from home as much as possible, paying attention to hygiene, and maintaining social distance. The Swedish government also banned people from gathering. As a result, the death toll from the virus in Sweden is higher than in other Scandinavian countries that have introduced strict quarantine measures.
However, the country’s economy has not been hit hard. In the first quarter, the Swedish economy contracted by 0.3 percent, while other European countries contracted by 3.5 percent. However, experts say it is too early to say whether Sweden has chosen the right path.
Moreover, if the world economy slows down, this situation will not bypass Sweden. For example, if half of the country’s economy is dependent on exports, and demand for domestically produced Volvo cars and other goods declines, it will hurt the country’s economy.
Swedish Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson has said the country’s economy will shrink by seven percent by 2020. This is not much different from other European countries that have introduced strict quarantine measures. Swedish authorities have denied that the country has offered an alternative to quarantine.
Recently, Prime Minister Stefan Löwen held a press conference for foreign journalists to dismiss the image of a non-quarantine state. “It’s a lie that life in Sweden is going back to normal. The situation in the country is not like that. We’ve had a big change,” Leuven said.
The Swedish model emphasizes public confidence in the government. In other words, the government takes responsibility during the crisis, and makes its own demands. Citizens strictly follow the requirements and recommendations of the government. As Christina Nieman, an economics expert, told the Financial Times:
“The Swedish model is long-term. Quarantined people do not immediately go to the shops and spend their money. They do not know what the situation will be, they keep their money in their hands for fear. It’s too early to say what the outcome will be. The global economic crisis will affect Sweden as well,”
Sweden’s neighbors, such as Denmark and Norway, have sharply criticized Stockholm’s anti-coronavirus measures while easing their own. For example, Norwegian Health Minister Frode Forland criticized Sweden for paying too much attention to the various models in the fight against the virus in history, noting that strict quarantine was an important step in stopping the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
According to a Swedish poll, 51 percent of locals support the government’s measures, 31 percent say the government’s strategy is unconvincing, while others are neutral. Interestingly, 61 percent of the country’s elderly support the government’s anti-coronavirus policy.
Anders Tegnell said it was time to move between a strategy chosen by the country and a strict quarantine chosen by the world.