Sweden admitted it saw no signs of herd immunity slowing the spread of Covid-19 as the number of new infections skyrocketed.
The Nordic country, whose approach to tackling the pandemic has gained worldwide attention, has recorded 17,265 new cases since Friday, according to its health agency on Tuesday.
The increase from 15,084 new cases recorded in the corresponding period last week, with hospital admissions of coronavirus patients doubling almost weekly in Sweden.
Anders Tegnell, the architect of Sweden’s no-lock strategy, had previously claimed that Sweden would fare better than other countries in Wave 2 after building herd immunity.
Sweden has admitted seeing no sign of collective immunity to Covid-19 slowing the spread of the virus as the number of new cases rises. Pictured: People walk along the Standvagen quay in Stockholm on Friday
Sweden recorded 94 new deaths, bringing the total to 6,500. Sweden’s per capita death rate is several times that of its northern neighbors, but lower than that of some major European countries.
The news came as the Swedish healthcare watchdog scathingly condemned the way the country’s elderly have been treated in nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic, noting that some patients have been left to die without medical exam.
The Health and Social Care Inspectorate (IVO) said the “serious flaws” could not only be blamed on the pandemic, concluding that they existed even when the added stress of the virus outbreak was taken into account. account.
Nursing homes were ravaged by the initial wave of the coronavirus, prompting Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to admit in May that the country had failed to protect its elderly.
Of the 6,500 deaths linked to Covid-19 in Sweden, almost half occurred in retirement homes for the elderly and a quarter involved elderly people cared for at home.
In an audit of healthcare facilities during the period from March to June, IVO noted that a fifth of all coronavirus patients in nursing homes had not been assessed individually by a physician and that in 40 % of these cases, the patient had not been examined by a nurse. Is.
In cases where an assessment was done, the majority was done by telephone and less than 10 percent of patients had a physical examination.
Pictured: A Christmas tree is seen at a quiet central station in Stockholm, amid the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Sweden has registered 17,265 new cases since Friday, according to its health agency on Tuesday
“The minimum level (of care) is just too low, even during a pandemic,” IVO director Sofia Wallstrom told a press conference.
“In its investigation, IVO identified serious gaps at the regional level with regard to the care provided to people living in nursing homes.”
“This is without a doubt very serious,” Lofven said in a statement to Reuters. “Everyone has the right to individually tailored care, regardless of where you live or how old you are.
“It is important that all regions take this seriously and make the necessary changes. I expect this to be already underway.
The agency concluded that elderly residents of care facilities had not received adequate care in confirmed or suspected cases of coronavirus.
IVO also said its study of care for the elderly was hampered by insufficient patient records.
Of the 6,500 deaths linked to Covid-19 in Sweden, almost half occurred in retirement homes for the elderly and a quarter involved elderly people cared for at home. Pictured: A view of the Serafen nursing home in central Stockholm
Sweden’s high death toll in elderly care has been hotly debated in the country, which has long been proud of its cradle-to-grave social protection system.
Fewer than one in ten COVID-19 patients had been examined face-to-face by a doctor, with the vast majority of assessments consisting of a consultation only between nurses and doctors, sometimes with primary information coming only from nurses.
The investigation did not isolate individual facilities or staff.
Although the failures were identified as “systemic”, the IVO’s decisions for the various regions showed that some had operated according to instructions to avoid hospitalizing nursing home patients. One region has prescribed end-of-life treatment for any resident showing symptoms of COVID-19.
After a lull over the summer, cases have exploded again in elderly care facilities in a second wave of the pandemic, raising fears of a repeat of the deadly spring. Nursing home residents account for nearly half of Sweden’s more than 6,400 deaths among patients with COVID-19.
The watchdog urged regional authorities to take action to improve care and submit it no later than January 15 next year and said it would conduct a further review of patient charts.
The country has also never been locked down to the same extent as other European countries.
While polls have shown broad support for the strategy, it has also been controversial, especially as its death toll has exceeded that of neighboring countries.
A country of 10.3 million inhabitants, Sweden has recorded a total of 225,560 cases of Covid-19 and 6,500 deaths. Pictured: Graphs showing average coronavirus cases (top) and deaths (bottom) over seven days
One of Sweden’s toughest measures has been a nationwide ban on visits to nursing homes, imposed on April 1.
The measure was lifted on October 1, but last week the government paved the way for local restrictions.
A country of 10.3 million inhabitants, Sweden has recorded a total of 225,560 cases of Covid-19 and 6,500 deaths.
Last week, Sweden’s leading epidemiologist Dr Anders Tegnell was forced to admit that Sweden is battling a second wave of the virus after previously downplaying the risk.
Stricter restrictions have been issued in 17 of Sweden’s 21 regions by the country’s public health body and Dr Tegnell, along with a 22-hour curfew in bars and pubs.
“It’s a different situation than we had in the spring when it was more local. Now we have a community spread across many areas at the same time, which is part of the reason we are seeing such a high number, ”he said.
Despite growing numbers and growing criticism, Tegnell said on November 13 that Sweden remains firm in its approach to the pandemic.
Anders Tegnell, architect of Sweden’s lock-free strategy, had previously claimed Sweden would fare better than other countries in Wave 2 after stepping up immunity.
In August, Tegnell attributed the low infection rates to the development of herd immunity to the virus developed in the first wave of spring, when Sweden’s light approach was accused of being one of the rates highest per capita mortality in the world.
“The number of people we don’t find with diagnoses is, with a high probability, smaller than we thought,” he conceded last week.
While Sweden’s per capita death rate is lower than in countries like Spain and Britain, it is more than 10 times higher than neighboring Norway and almost five times higher than in Denmark.