The Swedes quickly lose confidence in their country’s response to the pandemic, even the king issues a rare reprimand to those responsible.
Many more Swedes have fallen ill and died from Covid-19 than elsewhere in the Nordic region. And with Stockholm recently nearly running out of intensive care beds, frustration levels are high.
“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.
Much of the blame has been directed to Sweden’s chief strategy architect Anders Tegnell, its state epidemiologist. A survey published Thursday showed that support for him and his employer has plummeted over the past two months.
“Confidence is on a downward spiral,” said Nicklas Kallebring, analyst at Ipsos.
Prime Minister Stefan Lofven also expressed his displeasure.
“The king observes, like us and many others, that the fact that so many people have died cannot be seen as more than a failure,” Lofven told reporters in Stockholm on Thursday.
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. He was responding to a report released earlier in the week that showed significant flaws in the Swedish approach that led to excess deaths among the elderly.
“More or less all countries are grappling with this,” he said. But he also 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”.
Nearly 8,000 Swedes have died from Covid-19. This compares to less than 1,000 in Denmark, around 480 in Finland and just over 400 in Norway.
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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