By Rafaela Lindeberg
June 3, 2020, 2:25 PM GMT+8 Updated on
Sweden’s top epidemiologist has admitted his strategy to fight Covid-19 resulted in too many deaths, after persuading his country to avoid a strict lockdown.
“If we were to encounter the same illness with the same knowledge that we have today, I think our response would land somewhere in between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world has done,” Anders Tegnell said in an interview with Swedish Radio.
Tegnell is the brains behind Sweden’s controversial approach to fighting the virus, and the government of Stefan Lofven has deferred to the epidemiologist in its official response to the pandemic. Gatherings of more than 50 people continue to be banned, but throughout the crisis Swedes have been able to visit restaurants, go shopping, attend gyms and send children under 16 to school.
The comments appeared to frustrate some members of the government. Sweden’s minister of health and social affairs, Lena Hallengren, said Tegnell “still can’t give an exact answer on what other measures should have been taken. That question remains, I think,” the minister said, according to Dagens Nyheter.
Until now, Tegnell had argued that the long-term nature of the Covid-19 pandemic required a more sustainable response than severe and sudden lockdowns. Despite criticism from abroad, Tegnell’s strategy enjoyed widespread support in Sweden.
The government has started to grow concerned at the apparent missteps taken to fight the spread of the virus in Sweden. On Monday, Lofven promised there’d be an inquiry into the handling of the crisis before the summer.