Secretary of State Ann Linde at her office in Stockholm. Photo: AFP.

The ‘community immunity’ strategy with Swedish belief

Sweden opposed Covid-19 not by a blockade, but based on recommendations for community isolation and people’s sense of compliance.

“There has been a lot of misunderstanding about our strategy,” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said in an interview with the Guardian on April 27, referring to the country’s “anti-Covid-19” strategy. this.

Sweden, a Nordic nation with more than 10.2 million people, is expected to achieve “community immunity” in Stockholm in May, helping people overcome Covid-19 without strict blockade orders. as strict as most other European countries.

“Community immunity” is the term used to refer people to become immune to an infectious disease by recovering from illness or vaccination. Some experts believe that the threshold for community immunity of Covid-19 is when 60% of the population is infected with the virus.

While billions of people around the world stay indoors or suffer certain travel restrictions to prevent Covid-19, Sweden recommends that, instead of ordering people, avoid unnecessary travel. , increase working distance and don’t go out if elderly or sick people are inside.

By relying on the sense of responsibility of the people, Sweden still allows shops, restaurants and gyms to open, but hopefully customers coming to these locations adhere to keeping a safe distance. The country closed its high school and banned 50 or more people.

Many Swedes support and adhere to government policy, although the “community immunity” strategy has been heavily criticized by many scientists. The percentage of people dying from Covid-19 per million people of Sweden is lower than Spain and Italy, but still many times higher than neighboring Northern Europe.

The country has recorded nearly 20,000 infections and nearly 2,400 deaths from nCoV. While the number of infections and deaths in Denmark is close to 8,900 and more than 430, Norway is close to 7,600 and over 200, Finland is close to 4,700 and nearly 200.

“Sweden’s goal is to save lives, prevent the spread of nCoV, ensure the health system can cope with and minimize business and employment consequences,” said Linde.

Foreign Minister Linde affirmed that Sweden is ready to change its policy depending on the situation. “We have pretty much the same goal as every other government. As we always say, the Swedish government is willing to make more binding rules if people do not comply with current measures.” , she said.

Secretary of State Ann Linde at her office in Stockholm. Image: AFP.

The Swedish Foreign Minister also added that the country’s policy was long-term. “This is a marathon, not a sprint,” Linde said.

Stockholm authorities over the weekend decided to close five bars and restaurants because they did not comply with the principle of spacing. They only give diners enough time to finish the meal before forcing them to leave the restaurant.

“This is a strong warning. They are not voluntary measures. You must understand that you need to comply. We believe the best way is to combine some of the binding measures. and clear recommendations to the public. We want to build a long and strong trust relationship between the government and the people, “said Foreign Minister Linde.

She confirms a lot of evidence that most Swedish people comply with the regulation, showing that the number of bookings at the two most popular domestic tourist destinations in the country has decreased by 96%, after the government’s promotion. suggest that people stay home during Easter. The prevalence of nCoV in this country is also showing signs of decline and the Public Health Agency estimates that about 20% of the more than 10 million people are infected with nCoV.

Foreign Minister Linde said she would “be surprised” if the strategy was not criticized. The “conductor” of the Swedish anti-Covid-19 strategy is the famous epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, who described it not only to create “community immunity” but also to help prevent the spread of nCoV, in when maintaining the resilience of the health system.

A cafe in Stockholm is still crowded on April 20. Photo: Reuters.

A cafe in Stockholm is still crowded on April 20. Image: Reuters.

Some of the nation’s leading medical scholars and professors have harshly criticized Sweden’s “one-on-one” decision to not block the country like many other European countries. They have sent many open letters and petitions urging the government to urgently change the existing strategy when it sees an increase in the number of cases and deaths of nCoV in Sweden.

Linde said the relatively high mortality rate is certainly not what Sweden would like when applying the current strategy. However, she admits particularly high deaths in nursing homes, accounting for more than half of the deaths recorded in the country, as a failure of the government.

Sweden soon banned people from visiting relatives in nursing homes, but nCoV still infiltrated these facilities and caused many deaths. “We don’t know why. Perhaps it’s because some nursing homes don’t comply with the rules, or because employees are afraid of losing their jobs, they don’t dare to take leave even if they have been infected by a virus. We are investigating This topic, “said Linde.

In addition, the Swedish Foreign Minister also said that although there are many different views on the effectiveness of the strategy for Covid-19, Sweden still cooperates very well with the Nordic countries. They had “long discussions” with Denmark and Finland on the issue of border closures before making agreements between the two sides. Finland has agreed to allow people working in the health sector to support Sweden in some areas to continue to cross the border every day.

“I often have to answer a lot of questions from my counterparts around the world on how to combat Sweden,” said Linde.

Despite not having to block the whole country, Sweden’s export-dependent economy was still seriously affected by Covid-19. The government has launched relief measures worth 100 billion kronor (about US $ 10 billion), but this year’s GDP forecast is still down about 10%. Unemployment rate is also increasing.

People queue to buy ice cream in Norr Malarstrand street, Stockholm, April 19. Photo: TT News Agency.

People queue to buy ice cream in Norr Malarstrand street, Stockholm, April 19. Image: TT News Agency.

Foreign Minister Linde said it was too early to judge the Swedish government’s strategy of success or failure compared to other countries, or even to talk about what the success criteria might be.

“I will not evaluate or judge the strategy of Sweden or any other country. It will take a longer time for anyone to do that,” she said.

The Swedish foreign minister added that different countries have different methods for statistics of Covid-19 deaths. The long-term consequences of Covid-19, such as the impact of a prolonged blockade on public health, or increased job loss, will take years to assess. “We simply try to do everything we believe is right,” she said.

Thanh Tam (Follow Guardian)


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