Sweden should have handled its coronavirus response differently, the country’s chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told broadcaster Sveriges Radio in an interview today.
Tegnell, who had long championed Sweden’s liberal lockdown policies, said too many people had died from COVID-19 to justify the country’s looser pandemic approach.
“If we would encounter the same disease [again], with exactly what we know about it today, I think we would land midway between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world did,” he said.
The remarks came as a surprise, given his strong criticism of the harsh restrictions on public life imposed by other countries.
“There’s quite obviously a potential for improvement in what we have done in Sweden,” he said. “It would be good to know exactly what to close down to better prevent the spread of the virus.”
However, Tegnell stuck to his skepticism regarding the pandemic policies elsewhere.
“Sweden is one of the few countries that has worked up a gradual stop,” he said. “All other countries started with a lot of things at once, and the problem with that is that you don’t really know which of the measures you have taken has the best effect.”
Unlike other EU members, Sweden never introduced a strict lockdown and now has one of the highest COVID-19 death rates in Europe.
Sweden’s Nordic neighbors have expressed concern and considered excluding the country from the lighter border regimes introduced as the pandemic eases its grip on Europe.
Earlier this week, the Czech Republic ranked Sweden “high risk,” making coronavirus testing mandatory for those returning from the country.