Sweden’s strategy to tackle coronavirus triggers new controversy on immunity levels

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Sweden’s maverick response to the coronavirus has thrown up a new controversy: immunity levels.

This week, officials at the Swedish Public Health Agency, which devised the country’s no-lockdown strategy, claimed the rate of coronavirus immunity in Stockholm could be as high as 40 percent and is already playing a big role in pushing back the disease.

POLITICO reports that twenty-five Swedish doctors and scientists published an open letter attacking the government’s approach to tackling the virus and claiming immunity rates were well below those mentioned by the agency, and possibly as low as 10 percent.

One of the authors of the letter, virologist Lena Einhorn, acknowledged that cases of COVID-19 — and the death rate from the disease — are falling in Sweden, but she disputed the idea that immunity is a big factor.

The letter adds : “Regardless of whether herd immunity is a goal or a side effect of the Swedish strategy, how has it worked out? Not so well, according to the agency’s own test results. The proportion of Swedes carrying antibodies is estimated to be under 10%, thus nowhere near herd immunity. And yet, the Swedish death rate is unnerving. Sweden has a death toll greater than the United States: 556 deaths per million inhabitants, compared with 425, as of July 20.

Sweden also has a death toll more than four and a half times greater than that of the other four Nordic countries combined — more than seven times greater per million inhabitants. For a number of weeks, Sweden has been among the top in the world when it comes to current reported deaths per capita. And despite this, the strategy in essence remains the same.”



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