Anders Tegnell: 'Omicron won't change Sweden's Covid strategy'

AFP/The Local
AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Anders Tegnell: 'Omicron won't change Sweden's Covid strategy'
STOCKHOLM 20211104 Anders Tegnell, statsepidemiolog, Folkhälsomyndigheten under torsdagens myndighetsgemensamma pressträff om coronapandemin. Foto: Duygu Getiren / TT / kod 12080

The emergence of the Omicron variant won't lead to any major changes in Sweden's Covid response, state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told AFP on Tuesday, insisting "it has worked in the past".


Unlike other countries, Sweden never went into lockdown and only recommended the use of face masks in exceptional situations, such as at rush hour on public transport and when accessing healthcare services.

Sweden's Covid death toll is around the European average, Tegnell told AFP in an interview. Death rates in Sweden - with over 15,000 Covid-related deaths - are however much higher than other Nordic countries.

While Sweden never locked down, authorities did ban nursing home visits and limited the number of people allowed at public events and at bars and restaurants, where opening hours were shortened.

"The effects of the Swedish measures were not so different than the effects of measures in so many other countries," Tegnell said.

Starting December 1st, a vaccination pass will be required for the first time in Sweden for indoor events with more than 100 people.

That decision was taken before the Omicron variant emerged.

But the same approach used in the previous waves should suffice to combat the new variant, Tegnell said. "It has worked in the past. So far we don't see any reasons why it shouldn't work."


"It's still the same disease. We have every reason to believe that the measures that we had in place would also work with this variant," he said. The Omicron strain is believed to be more transmissible and current vaccines may not protect against it, though more data is still needed to be sure.

"To what extent the vaccines will protect against this variant is maybe the main concern," Tegnell said. "We don't have much data on this to say yes or no on that," he said, adding: "There is no sign so far that it gives a more severe disease than the previous variants."

Sweden currently has one of the lowest number of daily infections in Europe, but Tegnell said he expected numbers to rise in the coming weeks.

"There will most likely be a (new) wave, but this time the big difference is that we have such a big proportion of our population vaccinated, so we believe that the pressure on the healthcare system will be much smaller."

The number of infections is also expected to rise after decisions to no longer test vaccinated people even if they showed symptoms were reversed in mid-November.


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bbenoistlucy 2021/12/01 18:23
Let’s import Fauci !!! 😳😳😱😱 Nice to laugh after a long day on the job. Fauci would lock Sweden up in no time until the cows come home. Anders totally follows the science and frankly, there is no reason to panic every time a variant shows up. As he says….at the end of the day, it won’t change a thing. Would you rather have a succession of lockdowns Australia style ? Or a vaccine logistic German style…..meaning total mess ? Would you rather have a Dr Montgomery head of the Deutsche Arzt Kammer who predicts Omicron will be like Ebola ?? that’s what this demented bloke claims in German newspapers. Sweden has done and is doing just fine safeguarding people’s sanity and most of all, ensures children will not bear the scars for years to come.
  • jwillie 2021/12/02 03:27
    Seriously? Lets look at some numbers; Country Population Covid Deaths Deaths Per 100k (as of 11/4) (as of 12/1 - JHU) Sweden 10,160,169 15,015 147.31 - vs - Denmark 5,813,298 2,722 49.98 Finland 5,548,360 1,185 24.18 Norway 5,465,630 922 19.71 Iceland 343,353 14 9.69 Total 17,170,641 4,843 (the per capita numbers came from John Hopkins University and the total Covid deaths from Statista) The rest of the Scandinavian countries combined have nearly a 70% higher population, and yet have less than 1/3rd the Covid deaths Sweden has suffered. They locked down early, and I remember seeing stories of Denmark reopening their schools in late May so they didn't stay locked down forever. There is nothing laudable about the Swedish response above numbers except a callous indifference to the deaths of a generation of elders. Look at Statista at Swedish age groups, and nearly all of the lives lost were over 60 (less than 200 lives lost were under 50).
  • marlibgin 2021/12/01 22:31
    I am not an advocate of hard lock-downs, but frankly, one needs imagination to say that Tegnell follows science ... well, HIS own science, OK. Sometimes squarely "following" science is not particularly smart, whereas one should opt for a practical least damage approach even if peer review articles are not still there to corroborate your ideas. I recall him stating that masks should not be used because there was no study proving they were useful. This was kind of true in March/April 2020. However a pragmatic approach would have been to adopt them and in case eliminate their use if proving they are useless. This is an airborne transmitted disease, so it is nice to find alcohol bottles everywhere, but fomites are really not the big transmitters. Later studies then showed that masks do help mitigate the spread of some exhaled components, therefore reducing the propagation of the virus in close environments. This initial wrong message created a completely different narrative in Sweden, yet Tegnell is STILL stubbornly following HIS science where mouth/nose protection is not important. Understand me: I am not saying to lock-down, I am saying that I find this "do as we always did" policy completely stubborn and short-sighted, with a disease and a world situation that evolves every month. No, I am definitely not a fan of the man.
mlawson1986 2021/12/01 15:07
Anders needs to go, he doesn't follow the science, he follows politics. Let's import Dr Fauci from the US to give actual recommendations that make sense.

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