Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven defends government after Covid criticism

Stefan Löfven made the comments in an interview with TT at the COP26 summit in Glasgow. Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP/TT
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has responded to criticism levelled in the latest report by the independent Corona Commission, after it slammed the country's handling of testing during the first wave of the pandemic.

The commission’s report described Sweden’s delay in getting large-scale testing under way, due to discussions about funding and responsibility for testing, as a “complete failure”.

Now Löfven has spoken out on the report, arguing that its choice of words was a bit of a stretch.

The word used in the Swedish version of the report was haveri, which the official English version of the report translates as “complete failure” – but it could also mean for example breakdown, disaster or train wreck; the word can be used to describe anything from a plane crash to a computer failure.

Haveri, I think that’s stretching it. It sounds like the entire society is collapsing, and that’s not true. I think haveri is a strong word,” Löfven told the TT newswire.

READ MORE: Swedish word of the day: haveri

The government has previously agreed that the country was not prepared for the pandemic, and that it failed to protect the elderly.

The commission has not yet stated who it believes is responsible for the failures in the Swedish coronavirus response – this will be revealed in its final report in February – but it criticised regions and authorities for delaying testing mid-pandemic by discussing who was responsible and who should pay for it, instead of just testing.

Sweden managed to scale up testing in time for the second and third waves of the pandemic, but didn’t meet its national target of carrying out more than 100,000 tests a week until September 2020 – months after the first wave.

“Our responsibility as a government is to make sure that the resources are there. The government doesn’t test. The regions are responsible for testing,” Löfven said. “But we said from day one, very early on, about healthcare – do what you need to do, we’ll pay,” he continued.

He said the government was now going to go through the commission’s report thoroughly.

Löfven also stressed that the virus was completely new and posed a great challenge.

“It would have been strange if everything had gone perfectly,” he said.

The government and the commission did agree on one point though – praising efforts of healthcare workers.

The Local has requested an interview with Swedish Health Minister Lena Hallengren. She responded to questions from journalists at a press meeting on Friday afternoon after the report was released, but we were told they had run out of time before we could ask our questions.

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