Sweden still has one of the highest coronavirus mortality rates in Europe after avoiding closure – although it is gaining ground over the UK despite the stringent measures imposed in Britain.
Sweden registered 1.6 deaths per million people on Thursday, which was higher than the 1.4 deaths registered in the UK.
But the country’s death rate has fallen by 2.51 deaths per million since June 9, when it was the highest in Europe at 4.12.
In the same period, the mortality rate in the UK decreased by only 1.88 deaths per million, a figure that has largely stalled since mid-June, as the country attempts to end a shutdown that has devastated the economy.
Sweden still has one of the highest mortality rates in Europe after excluding lockdown, but it is now dropping faster than the UK as it eases the harsh measures it has introduced
People in Sweden have gone to the pub throughout the pandemic under a ‘herd immunity’ strategy that will be better in the long term, according to epidemiologist Anders Tegnell
Only Macedonia, with 3.4 deaths per million and Kosovo, with 2.1, now has higher mortality rates than the UK and Sweden, says the European Center for Disease Control.
By comparison, Belgium, which had the highest death rate in the world for a time, registered just 0.27 deaths per million on Wednesday.
Italy, where the pandemic first occurred in Europe, had 0.31.
Swedish state epidemiologist Ander Tegnell has repeatedly argued against lockdowns saying they are flying science around epidemics and points to the high mortality rate in the UK as an example.
He argues that the measures will only delay the inevitable and that – in the long run – all countries will find themselves in the same position.
Therefore, he argues that lockdowns are not worth the economic price tag they carry.
However, he had to admit that the Swedish death toll is too high and that more stringent measures should have been taken to protect the vulnerable, especially in care homes.
Britain shut down almost its entire economy when the pandemic broke out and has only started easing measures in recent weeks, stalling the declining death rate
Hairdressers, cafes, restaurants and pubs are now allowed to re-open in the UK in a move some experts have warned poses a high risk of spreading the infection
Sweden has so far registered 73,858 cases of the virus and 5,482 deaths, much higher than its Scandinavian neighbors, which have indeed led to closures.
Norway has only 8,950 cases of the virus and 251 deaths after early closure, while Finland has 7,273 cases and 329 deaths.
Denmark has 12,900 cases of the virus and 609 deaths.
The United States, which prevents full closings like in Europe, currently has a similar death rate to Sweden – Wednesday at 1.76 per million.
South American countries that are at the epicenter of the pandemic currently have some of the highest mortality rates in the world.
Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro recently tested positive for the virus, currently has a death rate of 4.8 per million people.
Chile has one of the highest rates in the world at 5.58, followed closely by Peru at 5.52.
Tegnell has admitted that he was wrong in some aspects of his strategy and would have taken more stringent measures before, but stresses that full lockdown would not have been effective
Worldwide, the coronavirus has now infected more than 12 million people and killed nearly 550,000 due to warnings that it is still accelerating.
In the past five days, a million new cases of the virus have been reported, while the previous million cases have taken seven days.
The world is now adding about 170,000 new cases of the virus every day, according to WHO data, while it added about 130,000 cases a day a month ago.
While the death toll is also increasing, they have been unable to keep up with the number of cases, some claiming the virus is getting weaker.
Others are talking about improved treatments and hospital capacity, while Brazilian Bolsonaro and US President Trump insist that the rise in cases is due to better testing – meaning infections previously unreported are now being picked up.