The data is in: Herd immunity works. Back in July, we wrote a piece about how herd immunity seemed to be working for Sweden. The tiny Scandinavian country, which never had a lockdown, saw its COVID-19 cases going down at a time when countries across Europe are seeing alarming surges in daily coronavirus infections.
More than two months after our story, it is now crystal clear that herd immunity does work for Sweden. According to daily death cases data for Sweden, the number of deaths has been going down since July 25. Now the new normal is the old normal and there is no “second wave.”
As of September 14, Sweden has its lowest rate of positive tests since the virus emerged, leading many to question whether the Nordic country’s controversial herd immunity approach and ‘relaxed’ approach to lockdown paid off. As of writing, Sweden has a total of 86,505 coronavirus cases and 5,846 deaths.
“Our strategy has been consistent and sustainable. We probably have a lower risk of the spread here compared to other countries,” said Jonas Ludvigsson, professor of epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet, adding that Sweden likely had a higher level of immunity in the population than most countries. “I think we benefit a lot from that now,” he said.
Sweden, a country with a population of 10 million people, has received a lot of criticisms for its so-called “herd immunity.” At the beginning of this pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended China’s containment model a way to slow the spread of the virus. However, Sweden took the opposite approach by keeping its economy open. The daily life of Swedish people continues largely as normal as the country’s health authorities took a radically different approach to tackle the virus.
Swedish health agency director-general Johan Carlson told a news conference that the Swedish guidelines were designed to be easy to understand and retain for an extended period. To date, a total of 5,846 Swedish people have died from COVID, a number that it is higher per capita than the neighbouring Nordic countries but lower than Italy, Spain and the UK.
Deaths, hospitalizations, and new cases have now dropped to low levels whilst countries such as Spain and France contend with surges in infections after they lifted lockdowns.
In late April, Sweden received a rare praise from WHO emergency expert, Dr. Michael Ryan for its response to the coronavirus. In a conference call with reporters, Dr. Ryan says Sweden could be ‘future model’ for coronavirus policy.
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