People to be paid for getting Covid-19 vaccine in Swedish study

As part of a small Swedish academic study, people will receive 200 kronor for getting vaccinated against Covid-19.

People to be paid for getting Covid-19 vaccine in Swedish study
A drive-in vaccination centre in Gothenburg. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

Vaccination against Covid-19 is voluntary for everyone in Sweden, and in general vaccination status does not affect which recommendations and rules you need to follow, aside from in a few cases mostly related to overseas travel. Sweden has not introduced incentives for vaccination or mandated the vaccine for any specific groups, as has been the case in some other European countries.

A group of researchers, led by Erik Wengström from Lund University, are offering their own incentives to a small group in order to test if this affects vaccine uptake.

In the study, around 8,000 participants were given one of four different incentives.

As well as the financial incentive paid in the form of a gift card, the methods for the other three groups were: information about the vaccines; asking participants to come up with an argument in favour of getting vaccinated; and listing people in their own life they would be protecting by getting vaccinated, while there was also a control group not given any of this methods.

Although the 200 kronor reward is not especially high (roughly the cost of a standard doctor’s visit in Sweden, though vaccinations against Covid-19 are free), Wengström explained to Sveriges Radio, “If it’s a high amount it can be hard to claim it is voluntary to get vaccinated; some could say it is coercive.” 

The results of the research, which will look at both the stated intention to get vaccinated among the different groups as well as the actual vaccine uptake, are expected in the autumn.

Since earlier this month, vaccination against Covid-19 has been open to all over-18s in Sweden, with booking already open to some younger teenagers and expected to be expanded later in the year. So far, around half of the adult population is fully vaccinated.

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Covid deaths in Sweden ‘set to rise in coming weeks’

The Public Health Agency of Sweden has warned that the number of weekly Covid deaths is set to rise, after the number of people testing positive for the virus rose for the sixth week running.

Covid deaths in Sweden 'set to rise in coming weeks'

According to the agency, an average of 27 people have died with or from the virus a week over the past three weeks. 

“According to our analyses, the number who died in week 27 (July 4th-July 11th), is more than died in week 26 and we expect this to continue to grow,” the agency wrote in a report issued on Thursday. 

In the week ending July 17th (week 28), 4,700 new cases of Covid-19 were registered, a 22 percent rise on the previous week. 

“We are seeing rising infection levels of Covid-19 which means that there will be more people admitted to hospital, and even more who die with Covid-19,”  said Anneli Carlander, a unit chief at the agency. “The levels we are seeing now are higher than they were last summer, but we haven’t reached the same level we saw last winter when omicron was spreading for the first time.” 

While 27 deaths a week with for from Covid-19 is a rise on the low levels seen this spring, it is well below the peak death rate Sweden saw in April 2020, when more than 100 people were dying a day. 

The number of Covid deaths recorded each week this summer. Source. Public Health Agency of Sweden
A graph of Covid deaths per day since the start of the pandemic shows that the current death rate, while alarming, remains low. Photo: Public Health Agency of Sweden

Carlander said that cases were rising among those in sheltered accommodation for the elderly, and also elderly people given support in their own homes, groups which are recommended to get tested for the virus if they display symptoms. The infection rate among those given support in their homes has risen 40 percent on last week. 

This week there were also 12 new patients admitted to intensive care units with Covid-19 in Sweden’s hospitals.  

The increase has come due to the new BA.5 variant of omicron, which is better able to infect people who have been vaccinated or already fallen ill with Covid-19. Vaccination or a past infection does, however, give protection against serious illness and death.