May 11, 2020 - World

Sweden bets higher immunity levels will limit second wave of COVID-19

Dave Lawler, author of World

A poster of Dr. Tegnell, in Stockholm. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP via Getty Images

Sweden, which did not go into lockdown, has suffered 15 times as many deaths as has Norway, which did.

The other side: The scientist behind Sweden’s approach, Anders Tegnell, says Sweden also appears to have far more immunity in its population (25% vs. 1–2% in Norway, according to initial tests), and will therefore be well positioned for a potential second wave.

Between the lines: Tegnell anticipates that immunity will last for at least three to six months, though there's insufficient data to know for sure.

  • He contended in a Q&A with the International Center for Journalists on Friday that decisions to lock down across Europe weren't based on any established science. “The costs are enormous,” he argues, and the benefits still unclear.

The big picture: Sweden's death toll stands at 3,256, according to Johns Hopkins.

  • Case counts had continued to trend upwards in recent weeks even as the virus was relatively well contained in neighboring countries, though Tegnell says the latest data suggests the situation is improving.
  • He says the reason for the high death toll is that many elder care homes in and around Stockholm were badly affected.

Worth noting: Despite its more lax approach, Sweden’s economy has been hit hard, the FT notes.

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