Coronavirus: Sweden resists the pandemic trend - English

Sweden: Masks are not effective enough to justify mass use

By Stefan Groß-Lobkowicz3.09.2020Europe

Sweden also resisted the European pandemic trend in early September and continues to refuse to recommend face masks. Masks are not effective enough to justify mass use, according to the country’s health authority. Are the Swedes right?

State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of the Public Health Agency of Sweden, Quelle: picture alliance

Sweden has taken a special path since the outbreak of the coronavirus. The Scandinavian country never had to accept a lockdown, never reduced public life even during the peak phase of the corona pandemic – schools, stores and bars remained open. The Swedes have been and continue to be criticized for this. What is being practiced is “irresponsible” and “stubborn”, and a change of course is absolutely necessary, according to the accusations made at the Swedish Sonderweg in early September. A change of course was absolutely necessary.

Swedes remain mask grouches

But the Swedes remain resistant when it comes to masks – mask grouches not against the spirit of the times, but out of scientific conviction. While in the Federal Republic out of fear of a second wave, the mask duty tightens again, the Berlin senate after the riots on the anti-Corona-Party before the Berlin Reichstag even legally orders and extends the mask duty even to the private area and the celebration culture of the German citizens and flanked with draconian fines, the Swedes do what they can do best in Corona times. They live without masks. Be it in the subway or on the bus, be it shopping or at school. According to public health officials, masks have not proven to be sufficiently effective in limiting the spread of the virus, i.e. to justify mass deployment. Instead, in the country that joined the European Union in 1995, social distancing and personal hygiene measures have been used.

The relatively small country of 10 million inhabitants, which has been ruled by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven since 2014, has the seventh highest death rate in the world with 575 deaths per million inhabitants, but this is mainly due to the failure to protect the elderly in nursing homes in the early stages of the pandemic.

Falling numbers and reproductive value below 1

In contrast to many countries in Europe, where a new increase in corona case numbers has been registered, whether in France, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Spain and Italy, corona numbers have been falling permanently since July.

While the number of daily deaths peaked in April, the so-called reproductive value has remained below 1 for over two months. According to the Swedish health authorities around chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, the low figures give no reason to change the current strategy in the fall. Sweden’s scientists refer to scientific studies that have not proven that masks effectively contain the spread of the virus. Rather they argue: With sloppy application these would cause more harm than good.

Masks do not help either

As Tegnell emphasizes, the corona numbers have been declining since risk groups, especially in old people’s and nursing homes, have been better protected. He sees another reason for the low infection rates in the fact that the Swedes stay at home in case of illness, do home office work and respect social distance rules. “Attempts to replace these measures with face masks will not work,” Tegnell emphasized, adding on August 14: “There are now major resurrections in several countries that have introduced masks.

It remains to be seen whether Covid-19 transmission in Sweden will continue to decline. The Swedish population at least is so liberal that they would wear masks if the state made it compulsory. As long as it can be done without them, people trust Anders Tegnell.

A detailed article on Sweden’s chief epidemiologist was recently published on The European.

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