A new peak in the number of Covid 19 cases increases the pressure on the Swedish government to further tighten restrictions, as an independent report criticises Stockholm’s policy of avoiding blockades and the Prime Minister.

Stefan Löfven

said the government advisors underestimated the risk of a recovery this fall.

In recent weeks, Covid-19 patients in most parts of Scandinavia have filled beds in intensive care units.

With an average of more than 6,000 new cases per day in the past week, hospitals in most of the country are in a desperate situation,

Ann Söderström,

The Swedish director of health care and medical services told reporters Tuesday. In Stockholm there are almost twice as many patients in covid-19 hospitals as in intensive care, they said.

Björn Eriksson,

the head of the city’s health and medical service.

On Monday, the Swedish Statistical Office reported that Sweden recorded 8,088 deaths of all species last month. This is the second highest number of deaths in a country with 10 million inhabitants in recent history, only surpassed by the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918.

In spring Sweden hoped that the virus would spread mainly to young and healthy people, vaccinating the herd and minimising the number of deaths.


Andres Kudacki/Presse Associée

An increasing number of deaths and hospital admissions have already forced Sweden to abandon its policy of voluntary measures to contain the virus, a strategy that has aroused worldwide interest. On the other hand, most European countries have this year made use of lockout and mandatory restrictions to contain the virus.

On Tuesday, Loefven said that the new wave in the country went beyond his strategy. Since 22 November his government has banned meetings of more than eight people and ordered the closure of theatres and entertainment venues. Last week the senior class went online.

I think most people in the profession have never seen such a wave, Löfven told Tuesday in the newspaper Aftenposten. No one could have predicted he’d be that strong.

Mr Löfven is under pressure from opposition leaders and parties in his own coalition government to further tighten restrictions. On Monday, a government report accused Loefven’s government of not doing enough to protect the elderly when his approach allowed the spread of the virus.

I don’t think most people in the business have seen waves like that in front of them. No one could have predicted he’d be that strong.

– Prime Minister Stefan Löfven

Care for the elderly was unprepared and ill-prepared for the pandemic, according to the health committee responsible for the report. Elderly carers are largely left alone to deal with the crisis situation.

Originally it was hoped in Sweden that the virus would spread mainly to young and healthy people, vaccinating the herds and minimising the number of deaths.

The country’s chief epidemiologist…

Anders Tegnell

stated that the country would eventually reach this threshold long before the vaccine was available.

But last month, Mr. Tegnell: We don’t see any sign of immunity in the population, which is currently slowing down the spread of the infection.

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In the meantime, on Monday 21 December, the main medicines agency of the European Union will make a statement deciding on the approval of a vaccine produced by

Pfizer Inc.

and Germany


Sweden says it will probably start vaccinating around Christmas, starting with health workers.

Following the publication of the official report on Monday, several major parties, including the Social Democrats, who are part of Löfven’s governing coalition, criticised the Prime Minister and called on him to further adjust his strategy.

The overall assessment is that the Swedish strategy for elderly care has failed,

Jimmy Eckesson,

the leader of the Social Democrats, tweeted. This is the tragic story of the unnecessary deaths of people in Sweden in 2020.

According to some calculations, even without the blockade, Sweden has outperformed countries such as Belgium, France or the United Kingdom in terms of per capita mortality, which have been less quick to impose restrictions than other European countries.

At the same time, the Swedish economy has shrunk considerably despite the pandemic. The Swedish economy contracted by 8.5% in the first half of the year, compared to 11% in the European Union.

Restaurants, hotels and shops are faced with an increasing number of closures. Unlike the rest of Europe, where governments have combined restrictions with generous incentives, the Swedish authorities have given relatively less support to business by not ordering closures.

The United Kingdom was the first Western country to vaccinate patients against Covid-19. WSJ explains how the country plans to introduce the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine at a record pace to become a test for the rest of the world. Photo: Jacob King/Press Pool (originally published on 8 December 2020).

More information about Covid-19 vaccines

Email Drew Hinshaw at [email protected].

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