As growing numbers of Italians ditch their masks and have declared the pandemic response a scam, The architect of Sweden's controversial 'no lockdown' coronavirus response admitted on Swedish radio that his strategy - which sought rapid herd immunity to COVID-19 through mass exposure - resulted in too many deaths, according to Bloomberg.
That said, he wouldn't go as far as other countries whose strict lockdowns have cratered the global economy in the span of three months.
"If we were to encounter the same illness with the same knowledge that we have today, I think our response would land somewhere in between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world has done," said Sweden's top epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, who recommended keeping the country open aside from gatherings of more than 50 people. Otherwise, Swedes have been able to visit restaurants, shop, work out at the gym and send their children to school during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result, Sweden eclipsed its Nordic neighbors in coronavirus deaths at nearly four-times per capita, while the rolling seven-day average for confirmed deaths per million people is nearly twice that of the US and five times that of France, per the Independent.
Sweden's mortality rate is 43 deaths per 100,000 - among the highest globally. Countries which enacted early lockdowns, such as New Zealand, have virtually eliminated the virus.
"Clearly, there is potential for improvement in what we have done in Sweden," said Tegnell.
The comments appeared to frustrate some members of the government. Sweden’s minister of health and social affairs, Lena Hallengren, said Tegnell “still can’t give an exact answer on what other measures should have been taken. That question remains, I think,” the minister said, according to Dagens Nyheter. -Bloomberg
Tegnell has changed his argument that severe and sudden lockdowns were unsustainable over the long term, while on Monday, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven vowed to launch an inquiry into the handling of the crisis before the summer.
Still, there is scant evidence that leaving the country open actually helped the economy, as Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson warned recently that the country is facing its worst economic crisis since WWII as GDP is set to fall 7% this year - in line with the rest of the EU.
Conservative Swedish lawmaker Jimmie Akesson - leader of the anti-illegal immigration Sweden Democrats, tweeted that Tegnell's comments are "astonishing."
"For months, critics have been consistently dismissed. Sweden has done everything right, the rest of the world has done it wrong. And now, suddenly, this," he said.
Perhaps someone will finally propose a strategy to quarantine the most at-risk, while allowing the rest of the country to make their own decisions regarding their health.