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The Swedish ambassador to the United States believes that the country’s controversial strategy to pursue “collective immunity” – and not to lock up the country – is paying off, with the capital Stockholm on track to collective immunity in the coming weeks.
“About 30% of people in Stockholm have reached a level of immunity,” Karin Ulrika Olofsdotter told NPR. “We could achieve collective immunity in the capital next month. “
Collective immunity means that the majority of a given population has become immune to an infectious disease by recovering from it or getting vaccinated. Some researchers have set the immunity threshold for coronavirus herds at 60% in certain regions.
There is no scientific evidence, however, that people who have recovered from COVID-19 are in fact protected from a second infection. The World Health Organization said on Friday that the idea that a point infection can lead to immunity is still unproven.
Olofsdotter agreed that more research and testing is needed to answer the lingering question about immunity. The Swedish government is ready to change its strategy if the situation requires, but there are currently no plans to change course, she said.
Schools, restaurants and shopping centers have remained open in Sweden. The government has issued social distance guidelines, discouraged non-essential travel and recommended that people over the age of 70 stay at home. Authorities have also banned gatherings of more than 50 people, and visits to retirement homes are prohibited.
While the vast majority of Swedes endorse and follow government directives, reports suggest that residents of Stockholm have started breaking the rules as the weather warms. The government reacted quickly by threatening to close any restaurant or bar that did not implement adequate social distancing.
“I don’t want to see outdoor restaurants in Stockholm or elsewhere. Otherwise, businesses will be closed, “Swedish Home Affairs Minister Mikael Damberg said on Friday.
According to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 18,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Sweden, with 2,194 deaths on Sunday.
These figures do not bode well compared to other Nordic countries. Denmark, which relaxed some of its restrictions earlier this month, is nearing 8,800 cases of coronavirus. His death toll is 422. Finland recently extended its ban on mass gatherings throughout the summer. The country has more than 4,500 confirmed cases and has reported 190 deaths from coronaviruses. Denmark and Finland each have a population of around 5 million, about half that of Sweden.
“We share the same goal as all other countries, and that is of course to save as many lives as possible and protect public health,” said Olofsdotter. “So we are faced with the same reality as everyone else. But what is different, and I think it is important to stress that all countries are different, is that politicians take the actions that they think best suit their country and the general public. “
More than half of the deaths in Sweden have occurred in nursing homes for the elderly, Dr. Anders Tegnell, chief epidemiologist at the Swedish Public Health Agency, told CNBC on Thursday. The government is investigating the causes of high mortality in retirement homes across the country.
“Once we know how the virus got into our elderly care facilities, the government can make recommendations and take action to try to end it, because it is the greatest tragedy of it all, that he entered nursing homes, “said Olofsdotter. NPR.
The ambassador said that the decision to keep restaurants, stores and schools open during the crisis could potentially accelerate Sweden’s economic recovery, but said businesses and employees were suffering from the pandemic.
“Our unemployment, which used to be around 6.5% before, is now around 11% and increasing,” she said. “This is, of course, extremely serious, and we expect our GDP to decrease by between 4 and 10% by 2020.”
Last week, European Union leaders failed to reach agreement on an economic recovery program for its 27 member states.
Earlier this month, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said that thousands of people could die in the country.
“We have chosen a strategy aimed at smoothing the curve and not getting too dramatic, because then the health system will probably not be able to cope,” he told the Swedish newspaper. Dagens Nyheter. “But it also means that we will have more seriously ill people who need intensive care, we will have many more deaths.” We will count the thousands of dead. “