Sweden made the right decision not to introduce a lockdown early in the covid pandemic, but should have introduced more measures earlier, a commission appointed by the government said on Friday.
The Scandinavian country made headlines early in the pandemic by not introducing a lockdown, but instead issuing recommendations on homework, social distance and good hand hygiene.
“In comparison with the rest of Europe, Sweden has come through the pandemic relatively well and is among the countries with the lowest excess mortality during the period 2020-2021,” the Commission writes in its final report.
“Focusing on advice and recommendations that people were expected to follow voluntarily was basically correct. It meant that citizens retained more of their personal freedom than in many other countries,” it said.
But tougher measures should have been introduced in February-March 2020, the report states and notes that Sweden during the first wave had death rates that “were among the highest in Europe”.
“Earlier and further measures should have been taken to try to slow down the transmission of the virus in society,” it said.
While the Commission praised Sweden’s decision to keep most schools open during the first wave, it said that in March 2020 “there should have been temporary closures” of indoor venues where people gather, such as shopping malls, restaurants, sporting events and so on.
It particularly criticized the fact that it took until the end of March 2020 before the limit for public gatherings was lowered to 50 people.
In the later stages of the pandemic, Sweden eventually introduced stricter measures, including a ban on older home visits, earlier closures of bars and restaurants and vaccine cards for indoor events.
The Commission also said that the government should have taken the lead in all aspects of covid crisis management, despite the Public Health Agency’s high degree of independence and a healthcare system managed by autonomous regional councils.
“The government was too one-sidedly dependent on assessments made by the Public Health Agency,” it said.
An earlier interim report from the Commission had also criticized the country’s slowness in setting up adequate testing measures.
With more than 17,000 deaths so far, Sweden’s death toll is slightly better than the European average but is much higher per capita than in neighboring Norway, Finland and Denmark.
The Scandinavian country lifted all its covid restrictions on 9 February.
Sweden refrains from vaccinating all children aged 5-11 years
© 2022 AFP
Quote: Sweden right not to lockdown for covid: report (2022, 25 February) retrieved 25 February 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-02-sweden-lockdown-covid.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair business for private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for informational purposes only.