Sweden’s Refusal to Lockdown: How it Has Affected the Country

Most countries have gone on lockdown as a result of the coronavirus; however, this does not include Sweden. In Sweden, restaurants and businesses remain open as if a pandemic were not sweeping the globe. Instead of enforcing a lockdown, social distancing has been made completely voluntary. Many professionals such as doctors and scientists are calling this lax response a mistake that will result in many more deaths.

According to this Time article, Cecilia Söderberg-Nauclér and other experts have published a letter calling for the government to use stricter measures. The government’s reasoning for keeping everything open was reported to be to build “herd immunity” by having the virus slowly spread. They hoped to eventually have the virus eradicated by a vaccine and immunity. However, the previously mentioned officials claim that this approach is not backed by evidence. There is no proof that immunity can be achieved with coronavirus. This approach was previously used by the UK and Netherlands before they realized that it was ineffective. Had their practices continued, their hospitals and supplies would have been overwhelmed. Sweden seems to be headed down this path according to health officials.

Stockholm, Sweden Marten Bjork

This Independent article includes a quote from a doctor claiming to never have written so many death certificates in his career. Sweden currently has the highest death toll of all the Nordic countries combined at 1203 as of April 16. While many countries have limited the gatherings of people to small amounts such as groups of six, Sweden has limited gatherings to less than 500 people. Furthermore, there are no rules placed requiring those who may have been exposed to coronavirus by a household member to quarantine. The government has also faced a backlash from officials that claim they are not protecting the elderly population. The virus has spread to nearly one-third of the nursing homes in the country. The prime minister recently admitted to failing the elderly population.

front line Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash

The fatality rate in Sweden was reported to be 7.68 percent meaning 7.68 percent of Swedes that test positive for coronavirus passed away. Meanwhile, neighboring Norway has a fatality rate of 1.46 percent. Although South Korea also never went on full lockdown, they handled the situation very differently. This article details the country's quick response to the discovery of coronavirus by mass-producing tests and having everyone tested. This resulted in asymptomatic citizens being discovered before they could unknowingly spread the virus. This among many other differences in the protocol is what officials blame for the stark difference in mortality rates.

Despite these concerns from health officials, it seems that quite a few citizens are satisfied with the way the Swedish government has handled the situation. While others believe this will result in the termination of a long history of trust in the government, it seems that the country might continue this approach to the virus. In TIME’s article, the lead doctor of a hospital in Sweden mentions the belief that this approach “will end in a massacre.” Will the pleads of the officials be met with action from the Swedish government? The Swedish legislature will be meeting soon to discuss the possibility of implementing stricter measures.

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