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Updated August 4th, 2021 at 08:52 IST

As Sweden reports nearly zero COVID deaths, experts criticise govt laxity over new variant

COVID cases in Sweden & deaths reported have plummeted despite laxity in mask laws and anti-lockdown approach, experts believe effects largely downplayed

Zaini Majeed
Sweden
IMAGE: AP | Image:self
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Sweden has recorded an average of 0.6 COVID deaths per day from the novel COVID-19 as the world grapples to fight the surge from the hyper contagious Delta variant. Sweden's COVID-19 death toll was close to 'zero' as of Tuesday compared to the neighbouring Nordic countries such as Denmark that recorded 2,550 fatalities, Finland with 982 death toll, and Norway with 799 deaths. Sweden had controversially remained ‘mask-free and had shunned the lockdown to “achieve coronavirus herd immunity”, a strategy widely criticized by the health experts.

In April this year, the king of Sweden lambasted the country's anti-lockdown approach. In a statement to the state broadcaster SVT King Carl XVI Gustaf had said the number of deaths in Sweden was "terrible" and "the people of Sweden have suffered tremendously” denouncing the country’s lackadaisical approach during the pandemic. And therefore, having no other option, Swedish people relied on voluntary health safety measures to reach “herd immunity” in order to mitigate the severe impact of the disease. 

Sweden's Chief epidemiologist negates US CDC

Swedish health officials, however, warned last week about the surge in the caseload of the hypervirulent COVID-19 delta variant, that wreaked havoc in India. While the health officials urged the citizens to get inoculated to deter the expectant fourth wave of the pandemic, Sweden’s Chief epidemiologist downplayed the severity of the deadly Delta variant citing the latest deaths figure. Sweden has recorded an average of 0.6 COVID deaths per day, much lesser as compared to the US, which recorded 329 deaths per day, and the UK, where the fatalities hit 74. 

Sweden scrapped the mask mandate for the public settings both indoor and outdoor in July amid the warnings from US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that the Delta variant was as infectious as chickenpox and the masks were necessary. Country’s Chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell who designed Sweden’s containment strategies argued the claim saying that there was 'a lot we do not know' about the Delta Variant in his statement to Aftonbladet newspaper.

'It is difficult to say how contagious Delta is, [as] when it comes to chickenpox, we have been able to follow the disease for several years,” Tegnell said. Furthermore, he added, “The infectiousness [of Delta] seems to be very uneven – in some cases, one person infects a hundred people, then we have other occasions when an infected person does not infect anyone at all.” 

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Published August 4th, 2021 at 08:52 IST

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