Sweden has only 13 coronavirus patients in ICU and has only suffered an average of one death per day in the past 10 despite avoiding blockade
- The 13 Swedish patients compared with 843 in hospital in the UK, 80 on ventilators
- Also, one death per day in the country over the past 10 compares with an average of 9.3 deaths per day over the same period in the UK
- It comes despite claims that the Swedish “herd immunity” strategy was reckless
Sweden has only 13 ICU patients and has on average suffered a single death per day in the past 10 despite avoiding blockade.
Stockholm’s strategy of “herd immunity” – once backed by Downing Street – to allow the disease to spread among the population, has been criticized as reckless but the data increasingly confirms the decision.
Sweden (population 10 million) has 13 ICU patients, in comparison the UK (population 66 million) has 843 patients in hospital, 80 of them on ventilators.
Furthermore, Sweden has had an average of only one death per day in the past 10, compared with 9.3 deaths every day in the UK over the same period.
Anders Tegnell, the brains behind the Swedish coronavirus strategy, is considered controversial by many of his academic colleagues in Europe, but is considered a hero in Sweden.
The nation has recorded 5,838 deaths from Covid-19 – the fifth highest per capita rate in Europe – but the number of new infections has been declining since June.
On Wednesday, Sweden recorded fewer deaths per million people – 0.06 – than the UK, where the figure was 0.17 ahead of Boris Johnson’s reversal of the blockade.
Epidemiologist Johan Carlson, who is also director of the Swedish public health agency, told the Times: ‘Our strategy was coherent and sustainable.
‘We probably have a lower risk than [the virus] spreading compared to other countries. ‘
Stockholm officials argued early in the pandemic that the virus would be a long-term challenge and that it would be more beneficial for people to continue going about their daily activities and develop immunity to it.
The public was urged to work from home wherever possible, but schools, bars and restaurants remained largely open, and although people are encouraged to keep 1.5m away from each other, Sweden does not he asked that the masks be worn in shops or on means of transport.
Initially, scientists described the approach as reckless, with some predicting that up to 180,000 people out of a population of 10.2 million could die as a result.
While only Belgium, the UK, Spain and Italy have recorded more deaths than Sweden, its total of 5,838 shows just how exaggerated those estimates have been, particularly given the downward trajectory since the summer.
Swedes queue for a boat ride in Stockholm in July, only one person can be seen wearing a mask
A graph shows how the number of new coronavirus deaths per million people in Sweden and the UK has changed
In fact, only seven people died from the coronavirus this week.
Its progress can be further highlighted by comparing it with Norway, one of the first on the continent to introduce a blockade, as it now has fewer cases per capita than its neighbor.
Similarly, Denmark, which has also imposed severe restrictions, has seen its infection rate rise more than that recorded in Sweden, despite initially appearing to have curbed the worst of the virus.
A graph shows the comparison of the number of cases per million people in Norway, Denmark and Sweden
The other Scandinavian countries have largely reopened their borders with Sweden, but the increase in cases in Norway means that some quarantine measures have been reinstated.
As Boris Johnson observes his mass testing regime in the UK, the Swedish government has invested far more resources into testing, previously limiting them to those most at risk and those working on the front lines.
As a result, it now runs triple the daily tests it did three months ago, offering them to anyone with apparent symptoms, while a system to track and test the contacts of each infected person also appears to work.