The chief architect of Sweden’s controversial response to the pandemic is losing the trust of the people who are supposed to take his advice, even the nation’s monarch signaling his disapproval.
Anders Tegnell, a Swedish state epidemiologist and the country’s main proponent of an anti-lockout strategy, saw his support drop 13 points in a poll released Thursday, to 59% of those polled. Confidence in his employer, the Swedish Public Health Agency, fell to 52% from 68% in October, according to the survey by Ipsos and Dagens Nyheter.
“Confidence is on a downward spiral,” said Nicklas Kallebring, analyst at Ipsos.
The latest poll follows pleas for help from Swedish healthcare workers, who are increasingly overwhelmed by a pandemic that has sickened and killed more of their compatriots exponentially than in any other Nordic country. The situation has already overwhelmed intensive care units in Stockholm, and authorities are now trying to urgently develop contingency plans.
Meanwhile, Tegnell has continued to defend Sweden’s overall strategy of avoiding lockdowns. He also argues that there is no real evidence that face masks work, and that Swedes are among the only people who live their daily lives largely without a mask, with shops, restaurants and gyms still. open.
In an interview with TV4, Tegnell said no one could say whether the Swedish strategy had failed.
“More or less all countries are grappling with this,” he said. But he admitted that the situation in his home country was dire.
“We’re starting to approach the breaking point in a lot of different aspects,” he said. “I understand that health care is going through a very difficult time now… the staff are exhausted” which means “the pressure on care is getting very, very great”.
More broadly, the Ipsos / Dagens Nyheter poll of 1,226 voters showed that trust in authorities, in general, has fallen to a new low of 34%.
“If trust in the authorities disappears, fewer people will listen to the advice and recommendations they give,” said Kallebring of Ipos. “It can have real consequences on life or death.”
The Swedish central bank on Thursday released aestimatethe economic cost of a protracted pandemic. His research shows that each month in which the health crisis can be shortened will add 25 billion crowns ($ 3 billion) to the gross domestic product and improve public finances by 20 billion crowns.
Sweden’s Covid-19 death toll stands at 7,802, the highest in the Nordic region in absolute and per capita terms. The situation caused such a widespread shock in the country that it prompted a rare verbal intervention from the king.
“The Swedish people have suffered enormously under difficult conditions,” King Carl XVI Gustaf told public broadcaster SVT. Regarding the strategy deployed in Sweden, he said: “I think we have failed.
In his interview with TV4, Tegnell said he was “surprised” by the intensity of the second wave of the pandemic.
“I think many, with me, are surprised that he was able to come back so strongly,” he said.
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