Sweden recorded its lowest daily number of COVID-19 deaths in more than two months on Thursday as vaccinations among the elderly began alleviating the impact of a second wave of the virus at hard-hit nursing homes, the health agency said.
The country of 10 million people registered 44 new deaths, taking the total to 12,370, the lowest daily increase recorded since Dec. 3 last year. The deaths registered have typically occurred over several days and weeks.
The decreasing daily toll was in line with a slowdown over the past month, during which COVID-19 vaccines have been gradually rolled out in the face of delivery delays.
“We can in good conscience say that this type of decrease should be due to the vaccines,” Chief Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told a news conference. “It also follows what we have seen in Israel and other countries.”
Sweden has vaccinated more than 80% of people living at nursing homes with one inoculation and around a third with the two shots needed for maximum protection. Roughly half of Sweden’s deaths have occurred among nursing home residents.
However, a steady decline in new cases appeared to have halted. Sweden registered 4,333 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, Health Agency statistics showed, and the number of cases has been fairly constant over the past three weeks.
Sweden has also seen an increase of cases of the virus mutation first detected in Britain, which is thought to be more infectious. A sample of positive tests in the region home to Gothenburg showed 20% were now of the British strain, the health agency said.
Sweden’s death rate per capita is several times higher than that of its Nordic neighbours, but lower than several European countries that opted for lockdowns.
Main Photo: Passengers onboard an underground train wear masks to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, in Stockholm, Sweden. EPA-EFE/Jessica Gow