What's next for the Covid pandemic in Sweden?

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What's next for the Covid pandemic in Sweden?
State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell at a press conference in January 2022. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

The Swedish Public Health Agency believes that the spread of Covid-19 has peaked and will continue to decrease this spring, but a second scenario warns healthcare services to be prepared in case a new virus variant appears.


The new scenarios presented by the Public Health Agency are not a prognosis, but are meant as a tool for healthcare services to plan for the coming months.

Scenario 0, which the agency believes is the most likely, is that the spread of infection will continue to decrease to a low level, where it will remain until the summer.

"We are in a new stage of the pandemic where there is broad immunological protection in the population, since many are vaccinated and have had the infection. Even if the spread of infection were to rise again, it is unlikely that many would become seriously ill," state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said in a statement.

The agency's second scenario, scenario 1, plans for a hypothetical new variant of the virus spreading from around March 20th. It assumes that this variant is as infectious as Omicron, with three-month protection for those who have previously been infected with Omicron.

In this scenario, the spread of infection would instead increase during spring 2022, reaching a peak in mid-May.


The agency said it believes the latter scenario to be unlikely, although it cannot be ruled out.

"This is why it is important that healthcare services are highly prepared," Tegnell said. "Well-followed hygiene routines are the foundation for preventing the spread of infection. By continuing to monitor and test nationally within healthcare, we can see changes in the spread of infection and demand for healthcare, and can even discover new variants of the virus."

These new scenarios cover the period from now until May 20th. New scenarios will be presented by the agency on April 20th.

The Public Health Agency stated that it does not currently see any reason to reintroduce measures to limit the spread of infection based on these scenarios, but added that "it is likely that Covid-19 will require further vaccinations for all or parts of the population during future winter seasons". 

Currently, around 84 percent of Sweden's over-12 population have been vaccinated with two or more doses.


Sweden ended most Covid restrictions on February 9th. On the same day it stopped testing the general public, limiting them to staff and patients in the health and elderly care sectors. That same week, a total of 62,406 new infections were confirmed, down 66 percent on the previous week. A total of 2,422,856 Covid infections have been confirmed in Sweden since the start of the pandemic.

The number of deaths with Covid reached its highest level in a year during those two weeks. On February 3rd, 55 deaths were reported, the highest number since January 30th last year. In total, 16,852 people have died in Sweden within 30 days after testing positive for Covid.

The number of Covid patients in intensive care has been on a downward curve since early February. Eighty-one Covid patients were receiving intensive care on Monday, according to public broadcaster SVT's database – a decrease of ten patients in one week.

The Coronavirus Commission, appointed to examine Sweden's coronavirus strategy, is set to present its final report later this week. You can read more about its findings in its first two reports here and here. The Local will cover the release of the final report on Friday.


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