No masks or trackers: This is how Sweden fights the coronavirus

Sweden, the country most affected by the coronavirus among the Nordics, has reduced the incidence of covid-19 in recent months, reducing infections and deaths to low levels without altering your laxer strategy and without masks.

With 83,958 cases, 5,821 deaths and 57.15 deaths per 100,000 inhabitantsAccording to data from the American Johns Hopskins University, Sweden is one of the ten most affected countries in the world, behind countries such as the USA, Brazil, India, Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy and Belgium.

The slow decline that began in April accelerated with the summer and, after a slight rebound, the downward trend in new infections has settled, with less than two deaths a day and a virus reproduction rate below one.

Of the excess mortality in the first semester, the highest in a century and a half, fewer deaths have been recorded than the average of recent years, and in the last week, there were only 16 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, according to official data.

“In Europe we have a negative evolution in several aspects, an upward trend in which Sweden is the exception. There are not many countries with a decline as steep as we have now”, Said this week the chief epidemiologist of the Public Health Agency (FOHM), Anders Tegnell, the“ visible face ”of the Swedish strategy.

No Nordic country confined its population, but only Sweden was unmarked from the general closure of public life chosen by the rest: although with restrictions, it kept open daycare centers, schools, bars, restaurants and shops, but not institutes and universities.

And now he has chosen his own path with the masks: while others have abandoned the initial skepticism and already recommend or impose them on public transport, Sweden refuses to do so, although it does not rule out that it may advise its use later.

Swedish health authorities believe that what is important is social distance, hygiene and isolation of the sick and that the mask can create a sense of false security, although it can be useful as a complement in some cases.

In early June, when the epidemiological situation seemed under control, Sweden began to multiply the number of tests and track the contacts of the positives, but without trackers, unlike most, shifting responsibility to patients.

Swedish health authorities believe that what is important is social distance, hygiene and isolation of the sick and that the mask can create a sense of false security

“It can work out as least as well if you call your contacts yourself. Why wouldn’t you? You have a great responsibility ”, Tegnell explained a few days ago to SVT public television.

The appeal to individual responsibility is at the center of the model, which has many recommendations and few prohibitions, such as visits to nursing homes or not allowing events with more than 50 people, a limit that the authorities want to raise to 500, provided that it can be sitting and keep a distance of one meter.

The different model and the high mortality attracted the eyes of the outside to Sweden from the beginning, forcing the government to disprove the myths about the absence of restrictions in the country.

Although the polls have always reflected a majority support of the population for the management of the authorities, they have not escaped reproaches, personified in a score of researchers very critical of the line followed by the Public Health Agency.

The health authorities have been accused of seeking herd immunity, something that the FOHM has always denied, reiterating that it has never been an objective in itself, but an effect.

That more than half of the dead come from nursing homes, when the main objective was to protect the elderly, has been one of the main reproaches, both for the delay in prohibiting visits (it was not done until April) and for the lack of means or personnel.

Tegnell has admitted that the death toll is “terrible” and that there were errors, pointing to deficiencies in geriatric care, personnel and material, something that the Government has also pointed out, alluding to the policy of the previous right-wing Executive and Stockholm , governed by the right and the most affected region.