Sweden’s lessons in fighting the novel coronavirus


Sweden was an outlier in its strategy to counter the novel coronavirus as compared to its European neighbours. The strategy was spearheaded by the country’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell. The essence of it was that Sweden had a much lighter lockdown. One consequence of it has been that the death toll there has been much higher than its neighbours Norway and Denmark, which opted for a harsher lockdown. Yet some of Sweden’s moves have, with the benefit of hindsight, been considered sensible — such as keeping schools for under 16s open. Tegnell now feels Sweden should have had a stricter lockdown but not one as tough as its neighbours.

The government, on its part, is contemplating setting up a commission to study its approach. The takeaway here is that Sweden isn’t getting lost in a pointless debate over its initial measures when information on dealing with this specific pandemic was limited. Instead, it’s open to scrutinising its approach to finetune its measures in the event the feared second wave of infection strikes.

That is the key learning. Countries need to re-visit their first approach to see how it can be improved, if there’s another surge in infections later in the year or early next year.



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