In Brief

Coronavirus: Sweden’s chief health official ‘admits to flaws’ in relaxed pandemic response

Leading epidemiologist says too many Swedes have died following decision not to lock down

Sweden’s chief epidemiologist has admitted that the country should have handled the coronavirus outbreak differently in a radio interview today.

Anders Tegnell, who Politico says “long championed Sweden's liberal lockdown policies”, told broadcaster Sveriges Radio that too many Swedes have now died from Covid-19 for the loose pandemic approach to have been justified.

“If we would encounter the same disease [again], with exactly what we know about it today, I think we would land midway between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world did,” Tegnell said.

“There's quite obviously a potential for improvement in what we have done in Sweden. It would be good to know exactly what to close down to better prevent the spread of the virus.”

Politico says that Tegnell’s criticism “came as a surprise, given his strong criticism of the harsh restrictions on public life imposed by other countries”. Though the site adds that he retained his “scepticism” regarding the approach taken elsewhere.

“All other countries started with a lot of things at once, and the problem with that is that you don't really know which of the measures you have taken has the best effect.”

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Sweden has one of the highest coronavirus death rates in Europe, with 4,468 deaths and more than 38,500 cases, according to latest figures

The Guardian this week reported that neighbouring countries Norway and Denmark are to exclude Sweden from a plan to drop border controls between the countries. 

Danish prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, told reporters that there had been “a strong desire to find a solution with our neighbour, Sweden”, but that the countries “are in different places when it comes to the coronavirus”.

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