Country faces lockdown: the dispute over Sweden’s pandemic course escalates – politics


High infection rates, significantly lower trust among citizens, criticism of the public service media, death threats against employees of the state health authority FHM: ​​While the country seems to be heading for the third wave, the debate about the strategy in Sweden has intensified drastically.

Since last spring there have been threats and expressions of hatred against members of the FHM management, the newspaper “Dagens Nyheter” (DN) quoted the agency’s director general, Johan Carlson, on Thursday. “But it has escalated and we deal with it every day.  The re are employees who have police protection. And it’s not getting better, it’s getting worse, ”said Carlson. “It even goes so far that we have received death threats that are being investigated by the police.”


 The  FHM boss did not want to tell who it is, but it is easy to guess that the state epidemic Anders Tegnell is particularly likely to be affected. Carlson said so much: Between January 2020 and January 2021, Tegnell received an estimated 50,000 external emails. A random sample showed that 80 hate mails were received in December alone.

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 The  sharpness of the debate about Sweden’s path in the pandemic has become clear since the group “Media Watchdogs of Sweden” reported on the public broadcaster Sveriges Radio. Around 200 scientists and activists who communicate on Facebook and Twitter have come together in it, as reported by “Spiegel”, among others.


 The  state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell is sharply criticized.Photo: Imago Images / TT / Fernvall Lotte


 The  group calls Tegnell’s approach “brainwashing”, the politically responsible are “criminals” and the media, which bring their messages to the people, “corruptible”. According to the “Watchdogs”, Tegnell himself should be tried before the European Court of Human Rights because of the many Swedish corona deaths. ©

 The  radio report states: “©

 The  tone and methods are worrying.”

A debate should be suppressed, so the allegation

Others accuse the broadcaster of being part of the government machinery. Individual quotations from a month-long debate were exaggerated in order to discredit the critics of the Swedish course. A member of the “Watchdogs” complained in a letter to the editor in the newspaper DN that she was accused by the broadcaster of disinformation, that she was “labeled a danger to democracy,” said Lisa Meyler.

She describes herself as a completely normal Swede who has obtained information from many international sources such as the WHO and scientific forums. Meyler continues: “©

 The  health authority is appalled and finds it shocking and uncomfortable that we are exercising our constitutionally protected right to freedom of expression and exercising our basic right to form an opinion and to influence politics and government decisions that determine our daily lives.”

Other well-known scientists in the country, such as Jan Lötvall, professor and senior physician at Gothenburg University Hospital, who has long criticized the Swedish course, also expressed their indignation at the radio report. He told the newspaper “Aftonbladet” that it was presented as inappropriate or even dangerous to express views on the negative side of the strategy. “I find it extremely remarkable that the Swedish public service broadcaster is trying to suppress a debate about the Corona strategy.”

Researchers accuse Tegnell of ignoring studies

In mid-November, representatives of the Swedish Science Forum 19 – an association of more than 40 researchers – expressed sharp criticism of the FHM in an interview with Tagesspiegel. It is incomprehensible, said the professor of public health, Claudia Hanson, “why Tegnell and his mentor, head of agency Johan Carlson, do not act on a scientific basis in accordance with the official government instruction. And this despite the fact that experts have been constantly referring to the WHO and studies by the EU Agency for Disease Prevention and presenting research results in the media and in the scientific community since March. ”

[Wissenschaftler klagen an: „Schwedens Corona-Strategie hat Tausende unnötig das Leben gekostet“. Abonnenten von T+ lesen hier das Interview]

From the start of the corona crisis, Anders Tegnell, together with Carlson, more or less alone set the course, determined the strategy of the red-green minority government of Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. In the northern EU state, too, the top maxim was that the health system should not be overloaded. A few comparatively moderate restrictions have been put in place. However, unlike in the rest of Europe, there should be no lockdown.

Rather, those responsible rely on the citizens’ personal responsibility. ©

 The  virus should be kept in check with appeals and recommendations. Daycare centers, schools and shops remained open, and pubs and restaurants were and are still allowed to serve guests subject to certain conditions. For a long time, Tegnell was reluctant to recommend masks. It has only been advisable to cover your mouth and nose since the beginning of January – during rush hour public transport.


 The  first wave hit the country hard, with a particularly large number of people in need of care dying of Covid-19. Tegnell has already admitted that the approach to protect older citizens in particular has failed. ©

 The  Swedish care system with its many temporary workers came into focus. ©

 The  64-year-old Tegnell did not want to take responsibility on this point.

But the first partial report by an expert commission set up by the government was tantamount to a slap in the face for him and the government: “©

 The  care sector was unprepared and poorly equipped to cope with a pandemic,” says the 300-page report published in mid-November has been. “©

 The  current government, like previous governments, bears clear responsibility for these failures,” the experts judged.

Incidence in Sweden is around 213

According to daily mirror data, the seven-day incidence, i.e. the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days, is at 215 significantly higher than in Germany (62). In total, Sweden now has around 631,170 confirmed infections and 12,649 Covid-19 deaths. For every million inhabitants in the Scandinavian country there are now around 62,000 infections and 1234 deaths (Germany 28,500 / 805). 398,092 people received at least one vaccination, 187,751 people already received a second vaccination.


 The  number of cases has decreased since mid-December, but the much more contagious British virus variant has also been detected in Sweden. “It is still uncertain how the British variant will affect the spread,” said Tegnell a week ago.

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His critics repeatedly accused him of wanting to achieve so-called “herd immunity” for the country as quickly as possible, not least in order to protect the country’s economy. Tegnell and FHM publicly deny that this was part of the strategy. Tegnell’s mail traffic that has become public allows other conclusions to be drawn.

As the British newspaper “©

 The  Telegraph” reported, Tegnell is said to have admitted that he had misjudged the course of the pandemic and, above all, the number of asymptomatic cases. Accordingly, Tegnell said in front of the Oxford Union, a debating club of the renowned university of the same name in Great Britain, that Covid-19 may have been falsely compared to the flu, in which a large proportion of people are infected, show no symptoms, recover and develop antibodies.

“That turned out to be wrong, because immunity in the population has gone way, much lower than anyone expected at the beginning. Many of the initial models were based on this assumption, and it turned out that it wasn’t, ”Tegnell said.


 The  Swedish scientist also said that herd immunity would not be possible without a vaccine. Without a vaccine, you could never achieve the high level of immunity necessary to stop the disease. And he admitted that the second wave was underestimated in December. Tegnell: “After the summer it looked pretty promising and we had a low level of cases, longer than most countries. But when it hit Sweden, it hit us very hard. “

Swedes are losing confidence in Premier Löfven

Most Swedes have long supported the country’s course in the pandemic. But surveys reveal clear cracks. A year and a half before the next Reichstag election, in which Prime Minister Löfven’s minority government would like to win a stable majority, their support is crumbling. Only 26 percent thought at the end of January that Löfven had the crisis under control so far. Trust in Tegnell is also on the decline: according to the Ipsos Institute survey, only 54 percent trust him. In October it was 72 percent.

Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven is losing confidence.Photo: Imago Images / TT / Fredrik Sandberg

For a long time, those responsible in Sweden defended their strategy by saying that, unlike in most other countries, the government had no legal means of enforcing a lockdown, for example. ©

 The  legal framework was only created at the beginning of January with a pandemic law. Far too late, as critics judge.

Will the lockdown in Sweden come soon?

On Wednesday there were now indications that this could also happen in Sweden. “©

 The re is still a need to take several measures, and parts of Swedish society may need to be shut down,” said Minister of Social Affairs Lena Hallengren at a short-term press conference in Stockholm. It is worrying that the decline in the number of new infections has decreased, said Hallengren.

A total of five proposals for more stringent measures are now being sent to the authorities for examination. ©

 The se include the possibility of closing shops, shopping malls, restaurants and fitness studios, among other things. ©

 The  proposals also include restricting access to certain places.

In any case, those responsible in the Stockholm capital region are apparently already preparing for a new scenario. ©

 The re, the number of new infections rose by almost 25 percent from the first to the second week of February, from 3223 to 4000, as the local health director Björn Eriksson said on Wednesday: “In many other countries we have seen that the second wave was followed by a decline and after that a third wave, ”says Eriksson. ©

 The  new trend should therefore be viewed as “very concerned”. And Tegnell now also says: “©

 The re is a great risk for a third wave.”

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Country faces lockdown dispute Swedens pandemic escalates politics


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