Anders Tegnell says there was ‘potential for improvement’ in country’s strategy to fight pandemic
Sweden’s chief epidemiologist and the architect of its light-touch approach to the coronavirus has acknowledged that the country has had too many deaths from Covid-19 and should have done more to curb the spread of the virus.
Anders Tegnell, who has previously criticised other countries’ strict lockdowns as not sustainable in the long run, told Swedish Radio on Wednesday that there was “quite obviously a potential for improvement in what we have done” in Sweden.
Asked whether too many people in Sweden had died, he replied: “Yes, absolutely,” adding that the country would “have to consider in the future whether there was a way of preventing” such a high toll.
Sweden’s death rate per capita was the highest in the world over the seven days to 2 June, figures suggest. This week the government bowed to mounting opposition pressure and promised to set up a commission to look into its Covid-19 strategy.
“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 said. It would be “good to know exactly what to shut down to curb the spread of infection better”, he added.
In an interview with the Dagens Nyheter daily, Tegnell subsequently said he still believed “the basic strategy has worked well. I do not see what we would have done completely differently … Based on the knowledge we had then, we feel we made the appropriate decisions.”
According to the scientific online publication Ourworldindata.com, the number of Covid-19 deaths per capita in Sweden was the highest in the world in a rolling seven-day average to 2 June. The country’s rate of 5.29 deaths per million inhabitants a day was well above the UK’s 4.48.