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COVID-19

Did Sweden’s state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

For his supporters, it was well-deserved, for his detractors a case of failing upwards. But when Sweden's Public Health Agency announced this month that state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell was taking a job at the World Health Organisation, both sides assumed it was true.

Did Sweden's state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?
Sweden's state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell cleans his glasses at a press conference. Photo: TT

Now, it seems, the job might not be there after all. 

At the start of this month, Sweden’s Public Health Agency announced that Anders Tegnell was resigning to take up a post coordinating vaccine work with the World Health Organisation in Geneva. 

“I’ve worked with vaccines for 30 years and have at the same time always been inspired by international issues,” Tegnell said in the release. “Now I will have the chance to contribute to this comprehensive international work.”

During the first and second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tegnell shot immediately from obscurity into the spotlight, gaining such celebrity status in Sweden that one fan had his profile tattooed onto his arm.

Internationally he was hailed by lockdown sceptics for his reasoned arguments against overly restrictive measures to control the spread of the virus. 

His new WHO appointment was reported all over the world. 

But on Tuesday, the Svenska Daglabdet newspaper revealed that the job had not yet been awarded. A spokesperson for the WHO said at a press conference in Geneva that “there is some confusion”, and that “this is an internal question.” 

According to the newspaper, there is even “a certain level of irritation” behind the scenes at the WHO that Sweden acted too soon and dispatched Tegnell to a job that did not actually exist yet. 

“We have received an offer from Sweden, which is still under discussion,” the organisation’s press spokesperson, Fadela Chaib, told the newspaper. 

On Thursday, the Public Health Agency’s press chief Christer Janson conceded that there had been a mistake and that the negotiation had not been completed.  

“We believed it was done, but it wasn’t,” he told Expressen in an interview. “It’s been a much longer process to get this completed than we thought. There’s been a misunderstanding and we regret that.” 

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COVID-19

Sweden to stop offering Covid jabs to teenagers

Sweden's Public Health Agency said on Friday it was no longer recommending that children aged 12 to 17 get vaccinated against Covid-19, citing the "very low risk" for the group. The new recommendation will come into force on October 31.

Sweden to stop offering Covid jabs to teenagers

“The decision means that as of November 1, 2022 only children in certain vulnerable groups are recommended to get and thereby offered vaccinations against Covid-19,” the agency said.

“Overall we see that the need for care as a result of Covid-19 has been low among children and young people… and has in addition subsided since the Omicron variant started spreading,” Sören Andersson, head of the Public Health Agency’s vaccination department, said in the statement.

For those over 18, the Swedish recommendation is three doses, with a fourth recommended for those over 65.

The country made global headlines when it refused to implement draconian measures as other countries around the world went into lockdown.

Sweden saw a slight increase in the number of deaths during the summer, but the number is now falling.

After having a high death toll at the beginning of the pandemic, the Nordic country now has fewer deaths per capita than the European average.

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