A big sticker of the healthcare services of Sweden was placed on the pavement in Stockholm to instruct people to remain 2 meters apart.
JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images
Sweden recorded the most coronavirus deaths in Europe per capita over the past week, according to data from Our World In Data, an online research publication based at the University of Oxford.
Sweden never issued a formal coronavirus lockdown and has instead encouraged citizens to stay home when they’re sick and maintain social distancing when in public.
Johan Giesecke, Sweden’s former chief epidemiologist who is now a health adviser to the World Health Organization, told Business Insider that while Sweden’s relaxed policy had not yet been successful in curbing its COVID-19 outbreak, it would in the future.
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Sweden recorded the most coronavirus deaths in Europe per capita over the seven days that ended Tuesday, according to data from Our World In Data, an online research publication based at the University of Oxford.
The data, first reported on by Reuters, indicated that Sweden averaged 6.25 deaths a day per million people from the virus over the past week.
Comparatively, the UK averaged 5.75 deaths a day per million people over the same seven-day period, Belgium averaged 4.6, France averaged 3.49, and Italy averaged 3.
While Sweden has recorded far fewer coronavirus cases overall than more-populated countries like Italy and Germany, its per capita coronavirus death toll is among the highest in the world.
Sweden never issued a formal lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the country’s coronavirus model relies on personal responsibility and encourages citizens to stay home when they’re sick and maintain social distancing when in public. Most businesses, restaurants, bars, and schools have remained open, though gatherings of more than 50 people were banned in late March.
Johan Giesecke, Sweden’s former chief epidemiologist who is now a health adviser to the World Health Organization, has defended Sweden’s policy and said that countrywide lockdowns merely delay the inevitable number of coronavirus cases and deaths.
“There is very little we can do to prevent this spread,” he wrote in a piece in a piece for the Lancet medical journal earlier this month.
“A lockdown might delay severe cases for a while, but once restrictions are eased, cases will reappear,” he wrote.
“I expect that when we count the number of deaths from COVID-19 in each country in one year from now, the figures will be similar, regardless of measures taken,” he added.
Reuters noted that Sweden’s per capita death toll overall from the coronavirus was smaller than that of some countries, like the UK and Italy, that had introduced lockdowns.
Giesecke told Business Insider that Sweden’s controversial policy had not yet been successful in curbing the COVID-19 outbreak in the country but would in the future.
He predicted that Sweden’s case count and death toll would continue to rise in the coming weeks but said the country was “on the downward slope.”
“When countries with a lockdown open up, they will get their cases,” he said.
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