Swedish epidemiologist sent death threats for Covid-19 response

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Sweden's state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, has received death threats over his handling of the pandemic, Swedish newspapers reported on Tuesday.

Swedish police are now investigating threats made against Mr Tegnell and his family, the daily Aftonbladet newspaper reported.

He is seen by many as the controversial mastermind behind the country's relatively relaxed coronavirus measures.

Mr Tegnell on Monday countered an earlier claim that Stockholm was on course to achieve herd immunity – where a high enough percentage of the population has already developed resistance to the virus to stop it from spreading – by the end of the month.

“No that will not happen,” he told US broadcaster NPR.

He said he thought the immunity rate in the Swedish capital was still probably lower than 30 per cent.

“As you might be aware, there is a problem with measuring immunity for this virus,” he said.

Sweden has taken a markedly more relaxed approach to tackling its coronavirus outbreak. AFP
Sweden has taken a markedly more relaxed approach to tackling its coronavirus outbreak. AFP

A report released last week by Sweden’s public health agency containing the initial findings of an ongoing antibody study showed that only 7.3 per cent of people in the capital had developed antibodies to Covid-19.

Sweden has been forced to defend its response to the coronavirus pandemic, rejecting “a week-by-week measurement of mortality” that shows the Scandinavian country as having one of the highest mortality rates in world.

From May 12 to 19, Sweden reported 6.25 Covid-19 deaths per million people per day across a seven-day rolling average, according to Ourworldindata.org.

That was the highest rate in Europe, followed by Britain’s average of 5.75 deaths per million per day.

Foreign Minister Ann Linde stressed that “transmission is slowing down, the treatment of Covid-19 patients in intensive care is decreasing significantly and the rising death toll curve has been flattened.”

“This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” she added.

Sweden’s relatively soft approach to fighting the coronavirus attracted international attention.

Large gatherings were banned but restaurants and schools for younger children have stayed open.

The government has urged social distancing, and Swedes have largely complied.

But the country has paid a heavy price, with more than 4,000 deaths from Covid-19.

That is about 40 deaths per 100,000 population, compared with about 10 per 100,000 in neighbouring Denmark and just over four per 100,000 in Norway, both of which imposed stricter lockdowns early on.

The novel coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms in most people.

For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

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Updated: May 26, 2020 09:52 PM

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