Sweden records the most new coronavirus cases in the EU

AFP/The Local
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Sweden records the most new coronavirus cases in the EU
A sign in Stockholm in March. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg / TT

For the first time this year, Sweden's rate of coronavirus cases has topped European Union figures but associated deaths are among the lowest.


The country had a 14-day-notification rate of 577 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. 

Passing one million cases in early May, Sweden has been near the top, just after Cyprus, for weeks with new cases subsiding faster in the rest of Europe. Sweden saw a peak in mid-April with a 14-day-notification rate of over 800 cases per 100,000 people.

"Many countries in Europe have been at considerably higher levels than what we are seeing now, so it's probably more about Sweden had a fairly late surge in this hopefully last third wave," state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told a press conference, lamenting that the caseload was still higher than last summer.


The Scandinavian country has never imposed the type of lockdown seen elsewhere in Europe, controversially relying on mostly non-coercive measures. It has gradually tightened restrictions since November, including a ban on alcohol sales after 8pm and on public gatherings of more than eight people.

Since March, cafes, bars and restaurants have also been required to shut by 8.30pm.

The 14-day-notification for deaths however was much lower than many other countries, with 12 cases per million inhabitants. In comparison, Hungary and Croatia saw death rates of 133 and 128 per million inhabitants respectively.

The total number of deaths associated with Covid-19 since the start of pandemic reached 14,351 on Thursday, putting Sweden in the middle of the pack in Europe, although well ahead of Nordic neighbours Finland, Norway and Denmark.

Mortality statistics also show that Sweden had a lower than average excess mortality in 2020, compared to the rest of Europe.

The chart below from Our World in Data compares Sweden's infection rate to the EU average and the eight other countries covered by The Local, and you can add further countries to the chart for comparison.


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paul.collyer 2021/05/21 16:06
Sweden are pretty much up with the EU average for vaccinations. About 42% adults one dose and 13% fully vaccinated. And that's why there has been no 3rd wave of deaths despite the case numbers. I sense most people here have switched off worrying so much about Covid since the elderly got vaccinated and the headlines about terrible death numbers disappeared. Not ideal for healthcare workers in busy hospitals but that's also coming down now. By summer this is over for Sweden.
alex.osmanov.88 2021/05/21 12:21
And why wouldn't it have? Apart from a few masks here and there Swedes clearly couldn't give less of a shit about COVID. Restaurants are packed every day, streets are full of people, groups of Swedes circlehugging each other every time they meet. Vaccination is slower than anywhere else. I mean, Russia has vaccinated it's population now. Russia! While a country with half the population of just Russia's capital but 10x higher taxes cannot vaccinate its people who at the same time want to have no restraint. So why does it surprise anyone?
  • greg.p.smith90 2021/05/21 12:35
    Alex, clearly you haven't bothered reading the article, nor have you looked up any statistics on your claims about russia. Per Reuters: Russia has administered at least 24,862,902 doses of COVID vaccines so far. Assuming every person needs 2 doses, that’s enough to have vaccinated about 8.6% of the country’s population. Stop spreading your baseless theories. Furthermore, the article above states that excess dealths in Sweden were below European average in FY20, indicating that they have better managed covid than other countries in Europe. Sure our neighbours have better statistics, but long/hard lockdowns havent worked everywhere.

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