Swedish approach to addressing COVID-19 pandemic

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Author (Corporate)
Publication Date 2020
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Summary:

Overview and information sources focusing on the way authorities and population in Sweden tackled the outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the country.

Further information:

As the virus expanded its prevalence across Europe and world, Sweden formally registered its first COVID-19 case on 31 January 2020. The first reported death appeared on 11 March. However, national authorities increasingly gathered international attention due to an approach to the outbreak which differed from most countries in Europe and elsewhere. Importantly, the country was not imposed a formal lockdown, and the population was instead expected to follow a series of recommendations issued by the Public Health Agency (Folkhälsomyndigheten). Rather than politicians, this institution became the core of Sweden's approach to this coronavirus, led by the State Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell.

Following the Agency's advice, the Government approved legislation temporarily banning gatherings of over 50 individuals, visits to nursing homes and also closing secondary schools and universities. Primary schools remained open. Recommendations issued by the Agency included working from home whenever possible, avoiding unnecessary travel within the country, social distancing and shielding for the elderly as much as possible.

Sweden was widely reported by media outlets as registered some of the highest rates of virus presence and related death. Despite the good quality of the country's health system, strained services led to postponed surgeries. A debate was also ongoing regarding the existence of sufficient levels of personal protective equipment (PPE). Similarly to other European countries, nursing homes were particularly affected by the outbreak.

Related Link(s)
Commentary and Analysis
Our World in Data: Sweden: Coronavirus Pandemic https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus/country/sweden?country=~SWE
Wikipedia: COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COVID-19_pandemic_in_Sweden
Politico, 23/03/2020: Coronavirus: Sweden’s ‘preppers’ say I told you so https://www.politico.eu/article/coronavirus-swedens-preppers-say-i-told-you-so/
The New York Times, 28/03/2020: In the Coronavirus Fight in Scandinavia, Sweden Stands Apart https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/28/world/europe/sweden-coronavirus.html
Politico, 30/03/2020: Social distance, Swedish style https://www.politico.eu/article/social-distance-swedish-style/
ECFR: Commentary, 09/04/2020: Sweden goes it alone: The EU’s coronavirus exception https://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_sweden_goes_it_alone_the_eus_coronavirus_exception
Euronews, 22/04/2020: Sweden's coronavirus strategy: Right or wrong? https://www.euronews.com/2020/04/22/sweden-s-coronavirus-strategy-right-or-wrong
LSE: Institute of Global Affairs: Event, 22/04/2020: The Swedish Exception: early lessons from Sweden's different approach to COVID-19 (via Youtube) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsiVWlN7KWo
The Conversation (UK), 23/04/2020: Coronavirus: are we underestimating how many people have had it? Sweden thinks so https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-are-we-underestimating-how-many-people-have-had-it-sweden-thinks-so-136893
BBC News, 25/04/2020: Coronavirus: Has Sweden got its science right? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-52395866
Chatham House: The World Today, April&May 2020: Sweden: Living with coronavirus Light touch or lagom? https://www.chathamhouse.org/publications/twt/sweden-living-coronavirus
ARTE TV: Reportage: Coronavirus in Sweden (May 2020) https://www.arte.tv/en/videos/092187-004-A/re-coronavirus-in-sweden/
National Geographic: History Dispatches, 05/05/2020: Sweden still hasn't locked down. But normal life is a luxury for only a few https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/2020/05/sweden-hasnt-locked-down-but-normal-life-is-a-luxury/
Forbes, 14/05/2020: Why Sweden’s Approach To Coronavirus May Not Be What You Think https://www.forbes.com/sites/heatherfarmbrough/2020/05/14/why-swedens-approach-to-coronavirus-may-not-be-what-you--think/
The Economist, 16/05/2020: Is Sweden’s approach to covid-19 wise or reckless? https://www.economist.com/europe/2020/05/16/is-swedens-approach-to-covid-19-wise-or-reckless
Euro|topics, May 2020: The Swedish way - model or dead end? https://www.eurotopics.net/en/237772/
The Guardian, 22/05/2020: Why Sweden is unlikely to make a U-turn on its controversial Covid-19 strategy https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/22/sweden-u-turn-controversial-covid-19-strategy
The Independent (UK), 01/06/2020: Coronavirus tracked: Charting Sweden’s disastrous no-lockdown strategy https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/coronavirus-lockdown-sweden-death-rate-worst-country-covid-19-a9539206.html
International Monetary Fund (IMF): IMF Country Focus, 04/06/2020: Sweden: Will COVID-19 Economics be Different? https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2020/06/01/na060120-sweden-will-covid-19-economics-be-different
Politico, 09/06/2020: Sweden’s lockdown paradox https://www.politico.eu/article/sweden-coronavirus-lockdown-paradox/
New Statesman, 11/06/2020: How Sweden’s herd immunity strategy has backfired https://www.newstatesman.com/world/europe/2020/06/how-sweden-s-herd-immunity-strategy-has-backfired
Euronews, 11/06/2020: Is fragile support for Sweden's COVID-19 strategy fracturing? https://www.euronews.com/2020/06/11/analysis-is-fragile-support-for-sweden-s-covid-19-strategy-fracturing
British Medical Journal (No 369, 12 June 2020): Has Sweden’s controversial covid-19 strategy been successful? https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2376
Euro|topics, June 2020: Sweden: the self-doubt of a model state https://www.eurotopics.net/en/242251/
Foreign Policy, 23/06/2020: Sweden’s Coronavirus Failure Started Long Before the Pandemic https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/06/23/sweden-coronavirus-failure-anders-tegnell-started-long-before-the-pandemic/
University of Oxford: Faculty of Law Blog, 29/06/2020: Calling Out the Law with a Lie: Community Perspectives on Precarity, Welfare and Law in Times of Covid-19 in Sweden https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/research-subject-groups/centre-criminology/centreborder-criminologies/blog/2020/06/calling-out-law

News
Reuters, 16/03/2020: Sweden launches coronavirus crisis package worth more than $30 billion https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN21311G
Politico, 16/04/2020: Sweden takes a chance on trust as Nordic neighbors lock down https://www.politico.eu/article/stockholm-sweden-takes-chance-nordic-lockdown-coronavirus-covid19/
Politico, 26/04/2020: Swedish deputy PM warns of ‘counter reaction’ to harsh lockdown measures https://www.politico.eu/article/swedish-deputy-pm-warns-of-counter-reaction-to-harsh-lockdown-measures/
Politico, 29/04/2020: Swedish minister defends coronavirus approach, shrugs off far-right embrace https://www.politico.eu/article/sweden-coronavirus-leader-ann-linde-defends-approach-shrugs-off-far-right-embrace/
France24, 17/05/2020: Sweden’s Covid-19 strategy has caused an ‘amplification of the epidemic’ https://www.france24.com/en/20200517-sweden-s-covid-19-strategy-has-caused-an-amplification-of-the-epidemic
Politico, 18/05/2020: Sweden won’t dodge economic hit despite COVID-19 light touch https://www.politico.eu/article/swedens-cant-escape-economic-hit-with-covid-19-light-touch/
The Guardian, 03/06/2020: We should have done more, admits architect of Sweden's Covid-19 strategy https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/03/architect-of-sweden-coronavirus-strategy-admits-too-many-died-anders-tegnell
BBC News, 03/06/2020: Coronavirus: Sweden's Tegnell admits too many died https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-52903717
Politico, 10/06/2020: Swedes round on Sweden’s corona approach https://www.politico.eu/article/swedes-turn-on-swedens-corona-response-coronavirus-covid19/
TIME, 15/06/2020: Sweden’s Prime Minister Rejects Criticism of Coronavirus Strategy https://time.com/5853595/sweden-coronavirus-lockdown-criticism/
Bloomberg, 26/06/2020: Swedish Expert Says WHO Made ‘Total Mistake’ in Covid List https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-26/sweden-s-covid-expert-says-who-made-total-mistake-in-new-list
EurActiv, 29/06/2020: Sweden remains ‘odd one out’ among Nordics, remains bound to travel restrictions https://www.euractiv.com/section/health-consumers/short_news/sweden-update-covid-19/
The Local (Sweden), 30/06/2020: Coronavirus Latest: What you need to know about the outbreak in Sweden https://www.thelocal.se/20200310/timeline-how-the-coronavirus-has-developed-in-sweden
Politico, 30/06/2020: Sweden the odd one out as Nordics turn nationalist https://www.politico.eu/article/sweden-the-odd-one-out-as-nordics-finland-norway-denmark-turn-nationalist-coronavirus-covid/

Official
Sweden: Public Health Agency: FAQ about COVID-19 https://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/the-public-health-agency-of-sweden/communicable-disease-control/covid-19/
World Health Organisation: WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard: Sweden https://covid19.who.int/region/euro/country/se

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