STOCKHOLM – Sweden’s chief epidemiologist said on Thursday that his country’s recently announced vaccine mandate for major indoor events may well prove to be insufficient to slow the spread of the coronavirus and flagged that further action may soon be needed.
“If we have the continued low pressure from the virus that we have right now, then perhaps evidence of vaccination (for larger public gatherings) would suffice,” said Anders Tegnell, the architect behind Sweden’s no-lockdown approach to the pandemic. press conference in Stockholm.
“But experience from many other European countries – the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria – suggests that if the spread of the virus increases, it will not be enough.”
Rising shares of covid-19 have prompted authorities across Europe to try to roll out or reintroduce restrictions on public gatherings in recent days.
Austria introduced a two-stage lock on Monday, which restricted the movement of unvaccinated people to food purchases and travel to work. But as a sign of how quickly the virus can take hold, two Austrian regions said on Thursday that they would introduce restrictive measures for all residents from next week when the infection rate continued to rise.
In Sweden, where the virus frequency is still lower than in neighboring countries, including Denmark and Norway, there is growing concern about a looming fourth wave. There are currently no restrictions on gatherings and no worm mandate, but on Wednesday the government sa that from 1 December, only those who can prove full vaccination may participate in indoor events for more than 100 people.
Tegnell did not specify what further measures may be needed in addition to the mandate if the number of cases were to increase, but Sweden has previously closed museums and other public spaces and forced pubs to close early.
He said it was important that people who experience symptoms of covid-19 stay at home and that they – and all the people they live with – take a covid test.
But Tegnell said the most important thing was that as many people as possible get vaccinated, the guidance Wednesday’s mandate announcement may have been designed to support.
“It is important that we work together, so that we do not have to experience a case like last autumn, and a case that many European countries are experiencing now,” said Tegnell.