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‘The world went crazy’ with lockdowns, says Sweden’s coronavirus expert

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From Daily Mail:

  • Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s virus expert, said the world ‘went mad’ with lockdowns
  • Said leaders caved to pressure with decisions that ‘fly in the face’ of science
  • Also hit out at WHO, after body said Sweden is seeing a ‘dangerous resurgence’
  • Tegnell has accused WHO’s Europe chief of ‘totally misinterpreting’ the data 

Sweden‘s top virus expert has said the ‘world went mad’ with coronavirus lockdowns which ‘fly in the face of what is known about handling virus pandemics’.

Anders Tegnell, who advised Sweden to avoid full lockdown in favour of a ‘herd immunity’ strategy, said world leaders caved to political pressure amid panic – and that the crippling economic downsides of lockdown will far outweigh the benefits.

Sweden has confirmed 68,390 cases of coronavirus and 5,230 deaths – far above its Nordic neighbours, but its economy is intact and actually posted slight growth in the first quarter of this year. 

Tegnell also hit out at the WHO after it placed Sweden on a list of 11 countries seeing a ‘dangerous resurgence’ in the virus, saying it had ‘totally misinterpreted’ the data.

He said a ‘surge’ in cases over the last week is actually the result of more testing, meaning mild cases that previously went undetected are now being counted.

Southern US states, Brazil and India are also seeing soaring case numbers currently – which leaders in those countries have also blamed on increased testing. 

Tegnell pointed to a steady fall in deaths, hospital admissions and ICU admissions as evidence that Sweden’s outbreak is actually retreating, not getting worse.

Sweden has seen seen its daily coronavirus case totals spike in recent weeks, leading the WHO to warn it is seeing a 'resurgence' of the disease

Sweden has seen its daily coronavirus case totals spike in recent weeks, leading the WHO to warn it is seeing a ‘resurgence’ of the disease.But the country's virus expert Anders Tegnell said the WHO had 'totally misinterpreted' the data, saying the 'spike' is down to improved testing and pointing to falling deaths as evidence

But the country’s virus expert Anders Tegnell said the WHO had ‘totally misinterpreted’ the data, saying the ‘spike’ is down to improved testing and pointing to falling deaths as evidence

Deaths vs death rate per million: This graph shows the total number of coronavirus deaths in the country along the vertical axis, with the USA at the top, versus the number of deaths per million along the bottom axis, with Belgium the worst-hit and Sweden in fifth

Deaths vs death rate per million: This graph shows the total number of coronavirus deaths in the country along the vertical axis, with the USA at the top, versus the number of deaths per million along the bottom axis, with Belgium the worst-hit and Sweden in fifth 

Sweden has come under fire for its strategy because it has one of the highest death rates per million anywhere in the world, though is still behind Belgium, the UK, Spain and Italy - all of which went into full lockdown

Sweden has come under fire for its strategy because it has one of the highest death rates per million anywhere in the world, though is still behind Belgium, the UK, Spain and Italy – all of which went into full lockdownThese are the 11 European countries that the WHO warns are experiencing a 'resurgence', with Sweden recording the second-highest case total today

These are the 11 European countries that the WHO warns are experiencing a ‘resurgence’, with Sweden recording the second-highest case total today

It comes after WHO Europe director Hans Henri Kluge warned in a press conference on Thursday of 11 European countries were at risk of seeing their healthcare systems overwhelmed by a surge in infections.

WHO’s list of 11 European countries seeing a ‘resurgence’ 

  1. Armenia
  2. Moldova
  3. North Macedonia
  4. Azerbaijan
  5. Kazakhstan
  6. Albania
  7. Bosnia-Herzegovina
  8. Kyrgyzstan
  9. Ukraine
  10. Kosovo
  11. Sweden

The WHO later revealed Sweden was on that list, alongside Armenia, Moldova, North Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Kosovo.

Tegnell said: ‘It’s a total misunderstanding, I would say. 

‘They have looked at the number of cases per day and it has increased steeply over the past week. 

‘This is entirely due to extended testing and that we find more mild cases. We see no evidence at all that our epidemic in Sweden is getting worse – on the contrary.

‘It is unfortunate that people are confusing Sweden with countries that have not previously had problems, which are obviously in the beginning. Sweden is nearing the end.’

Asked why the WHO had misinterpreted the data, Tegnell said no official had been in contact with Swedish authorities – meaning they missed the nuances.

He added that being included on the list could cause problems for Sweden, especially as countries decide where to allow their citizens to travel after their lockdowns end. 

This is not the first time Tegnell has been forced to defend his lockdown-free strategy, which has caused unrest at home.

Polls show that Swedes are rapidly losing faith in the government’s strategy, with confidence in politicians and the public health body collapsing.

In a survey this week, just 38 per cent said they approved of the government’s actions during the pandemic, versus 50 per cent in May. 

A particular cause for concern is the high number of deaths in Sweden, particularly in care homes which have been hard hit.

In terms of deaths per million people, Sweden is one of the worst-affected countries in the world.