The architect of Sweden's decision not to have a coronavirus lockdown said he still isn't sure it was the right call
- The architect of Sweden's unusual coronavirus plan said he still isn't sure it was the right call not to introduce a lockdown.
- State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told Aftonbladet newspaper he is "not convinced at all" and that his team is constantly examining how it is going and what else should be done.
- He also said it was important to "be humble all the time because you may have to change," according to the Independent.
- Sweden has only introduced a handful of rules and left places like parks and restaurants open, but its death toll is much higher than neighboring countries.
- It's still too early to tell whether this strategy was effective.
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The scientist behind Sweden's controversial coronavirus plan said he is still not sure if the country made the right decision by not implementing a lockdown.
"I'm not convinced at all," Anders Tegnell, Sweden's state epidemiologist, told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet on Friday, adding that the country's Public Health Agency — where he works — was constantly monitoring the situation.
"We are constantly thinking about this… What can we do better and what else can we add on?" he said, according to the Independent.
"I think the most important thing all the time is to try to do it as well as you can, with the knowledge we have and the tools you have in place. And to be humble all the time because you may have to change," he said.
Sweden has attracted international attention and scrutiny for choosing to rely on citizens' sense of public duty and urge them to practice social distancing, rather than implement a host of rules to keep people apart.
People are urged to stay apart but shops, restaurants, bars, parks, and elementary schools are still open, with the only rules in place including a ban on gatherings of over 50 people, visits to care homes banned, and restaurants banned from serving customers that aren't seated to reduce crowding.
If Sweden's plan is proven successful, it will show that countries could have dealt with the virus without devastating their economy and keeping people inside.
But whether it has been successful is up for debate: the country's death toll is far higher than many other countries that introduced harsher restrictions.
Sweden, with its population of over 10 million, has recorded 2,679 deaths as of Monday morning.
The country's death rate, adjusted for population, is much higher than its locked-down neighbors — more than six times higher than Norway and more than three times higher than Denmark.
Even if the lack of lockdown turns out to have been a good strategy, it is also possible that other countries could not have taken the same path as Sweden. The country has an unusually high level of trust in its government and in experts, has a strong belief in citizens' duty to one another, and is sparsely populated.
Tegnell and Sweden's government have repeatedly expressed confidence in the plan.
Tegnell said last month that the strategy had achieved its goal of stopping the country's health service from being overwhelmed and that it was "very difficult" to know if a lockdown could have prevented more deaths.
He added that the virus passing through Stockholm, the country's capital, had allowed some immunity to build up among the population.
He also said that around 15 to 20% of people in Stockholm have reached a level of immunity that would "slow down the spread" of a second wave of the virus, something experts worldwide say could be coming.
But the World Health Organization and other experts have warned that there is no evidence people who recover are immune, or how long they might be immune for.
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven also expressed his confidence in the plan last week, claiming it can work long-term as countries try to find a way to manage their populations until a vaccine is found.
"I feel confident in the overall strategy. One reason that we have chosen this strategy, and where we have supported the agencies, is that all measures have to be sustainable over time," he said, Reuters reported.
But some scientists in Sweden and around the world have been worried that the strategy will result in a needlessly high death toll.
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