Meet the Swede who tattooed a state epidemiologist's face on his arm

AFP/The Local
AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Meet the Swede who tattooed a state epidemiologist's face on his arm
Gustav Lloyd Agerblad and the face of state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP

Whether you're for or against Sweden's softer approach to coronavirus lockdowns, there is no denying state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell has become a household name in the country during the crisis.


Strange tattoos are plentiful around the world, but you'd probably still be hard pressed to find one of a state epidemiologist.

But on Monday, 32-year-old admirer Gustav Lloyd Agerblad from Stockholm had a portrait of Tegnell's stern-looking face permanently inked on his left arm.

"I like to have tattoos that represent something for me and, I mean, this Covid-19 will be a part of my life, for the rest of my life," Agerblad told AFP while reclining in the tattoo parlour's chair.

"So I wanted to have the Swedish face of the crisis on my arm," he added.

Both Agerblad and tattoo artist Zashay Tastas were surprised by the interest shown by local and international media, who turned up at the small parlour in Stockholm's Södermalm district on Monday to document the inking.



Agerblad said he was inspired to get the tattoo after Tastas advertised the design for a temporary rub-on tattoo on Instagram.

"I've been drawing people whose profiles I like, and he was one of them, and I just made it spontaneously," Tastas told AFP.

Sweden has not imposed the extraordinary lockdown measures seen across Europe, instead urging people to take responsibility for social distancing and follow official recommendations.

The strategy has come under scrutiny both in Sweden and abroad.

Giving updates at daily press briefings, Tegnell, the state epidemiologist at Sweden's Public Health Agency, has come to represent the Swedish approach, which has remained steadfast even as other countries have opted for much more restrictive measures.

The soft-spoken but firm Tegnell often comes across as unfazed amid the criticism  – sparking accusations of callousness as well as admiration for keeping a cool head under pressure.

The real state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell at one of the Public Health Agency's daily briefings. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP

A growing number of supporters have also put his face on t-shirts and wall prints.

A Facebook group called 'We support Anders Tegnell & co', referring to the epidemiologist and the public health agency, has garnered some 85,000 members, while another called 'Anders Tegnell Fan Club' has more than 29,000 members.

Asked about the tattoo last week by newspaper GP, Tegnell laughed and simply said Agerblad would have to "take responsibility" for the tattoo himself.


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