Mask-free Sweden is close to ZERO daily Covid deaths as country’s chief epidemiologist plays down fears over Delta variant’s infectiousness

Mask-free Sweden is close to ZERO daily Covid deaths as country’s chief epidemiologist plays down fears over Delta variant’s infectiousness
  • In the last 14 days, Sweden recorded an average of less than one Covid death per day
  • Compares with 74 deaths in UK and 329 deaths in the US per day over the same period 
  • Sweden dropped its last remaining mask rule – for public transport – on July 1 
  • But health chiefs in UK and US warn masks must remain because of the Delta variant

Mask-free Sweden is approaching zero Covid deaths per day while the country’s chief epidemiologist has swatted away fears over the Delta variant’s infectiousness.

In the last two weeks, Sweden has recorded an average of 0.6 Covid deaths per day, this compares with 74 fatalities in the UK and 329 deaths in the US per day over the same period. 

Although it has the highest per capita death toll of its Scandinavian neighbors, Sweden has kept its economy afloat throughout the pandemic with its reluctance to enforce tough social distancing rules or lockdowns. 

At the beginning of July, it dropped its last remaining mask mandate – for public transport – while health chiefs in the US and the UK are arguing that face coverings must still to be worn to stop the spread of the rampant Delta (Indian) variant.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday warned the Delta variant was as infectious as chickenpox – but Anders Tegnell, the architect of Sweden’s Covid strategy, cautioned against such sweeping analogies. 

In the last two weeks, Sweden has recorded an average of less than one Covid death per day, this compares with 74 fatalities in the UK and 329 deaths in US per day over the same period

 

In the last two weeks, Sweden has recorded an average of less than one Covid death per day, this compares with 74 fatalities in the UK and 329 deaths in US per day over the same period

People sit at the tables at an outdoor bar in Stockholm on July 1 - the day that the final restrictions on wearing masks were dropped

 

People sit at the tables at an outdoor bar in Stockholm on July 1 – the day that the final restrictions on wearing masks were dropped 

The epidemiologist said there is still ‘a lot we do not know’ about the Delta strain and that it was wrong to draw any ‘far-reaching conclusions.’

Speaking to the Aftonbladet newspaper, Tegnell said that the Delta variant was the dominant strain in Sweden and had been circulating for ‘for quite some time.’

He told the paper: ‘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.

‘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.’

Sweden's chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell warned against sweeping analogies about the Delta variant such as that drawn by the CDC in comparing its infectiousness to chickenpox

 

Sweden’s chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell warned against sweeping analogies about the Delta variant such as that drawn by the CDC in comparing its infectiousness to chickenpox

He said that the spread of the Delta variant was highest among young people who are not adhering to social distancing guidelines as much as older citizens.  

But despite zero infections being recorded in many municipalities, Tegnell by no means believes the pandemic is over.

‘There is a need for preparedness and attention everywhere. One should not draw any conclusions from the fact that no sick people have been found in a municipality this week. It can lead to serious consequences if you drop your guard,’ he said. 

On Monday, Tegnell announced plans for booster vaccine doses for the most vulnerable citizens from the start of September.

‘The assessment is that it is not possible to eradicate the virus and therefore vaccination work should be long-term and focused on reducing serious illness and death,’ the health chief said. 

Sweden’s department of health said it expected the entire adult population will have received two jabs by autumn, and that there will be a good supply of vaccines over the coming years. 


 

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Ushan de Mel

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