In the past few weeks, perhaps unprecedented, journalists, specialists and politicians from all over the world have stopped to analyze and debate what has been called the “Swedish case”.
The Nordic countries have taken a series of steps in dealing with a pandemic caused by COVID-19 which is very different from that in other countries, while experts ensure that “no matter what you do, everyone will get it”.
Sweden regulates what its authority defines as “soft confinement” based, basically, on the trust that exists between the population, and between it and the Government and its institutions. So the limits are limited: only meetings with more than 50 people are prohibited, and even though the university is closed, kindergartens and children’s schools are not. The restaurant and bar are also not closed, although tables must be at least two meters apart. The same applies to hair salons, theaters, theaters, fitness centers and parks that remain open.
One of the architects of that strategy was Johan Giesecke, perhaps Sweden’s highest superiority in epidemiology, and one of the best known in the world. Between 1995 and 2005 he was the country’s chief epidemiologist, a position currently held by Anders Tegnell, one of his students, who became a picture of the controversial Swedish case.
Giesecke, who between 2005 and 2014 was the first chief scientist at the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, remained a government adviser and also a member of the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Infection Risk (STAG-IH) of the World Health Organization.
When it seems that the pandemic curve has stabilized in most countries and the debate has focused on the reopening strategy, the model advocated by Giesecke and Sweden “everyone will catch it” has returned to the center of discussion.
So far, the results of light quarantine in Sweden – according to Johns Hopkins University figures – a little more than 3,000 deaths for a population of 10.2 million residents, giving a death rate of 30 people per 100,000. This seems to be higher than Norway (4) and Denmark (9), but far below countries like Britain (45), Spain (55) or Belgium (74), which decrees strict confinement.
When asked why Sweden did not take some difficult approaches like other countries in the world, Giesecke answered, “Because there is no scientific evidence for most of the restrictions taken by the state. I think it is important for politicians to show strength and action, and I note that this is an important reason for strict quarantine. In Europe, coincidence countries follow each other. When state X sees state Y do something, it says “we must do the same thing, we must set that limit”. There is a battle between politicians. “
“There are some things that we know scientifically, like washing hands is good. We have known this for 150 years. We also know that we must maintain a certain social distance, that is, do not get too close to others. But the rest? Nobody knows that closing schools will have an effect. Same with closing borders, or by not letting anyone out. Many countries have ordered residents to live in their apartments. This is strange, because it’s nice to be outside and people have to do it. The infection spreads very little outside the room. In fact, the risk is far less than in the room, “he continued.
According to Giesecke, only 2% of COVID-19 cases were reported because 98% did not seek medical attention at the hospital. Some might get sick, he said. There are patients who are sick for weeks. But they are not registered by the system because they did not go to the hospital. For this reason, he did not find the projections useful because the actual spread of the virus was unknown.
Giesecke recommends that young people without underlying health problems return to work and social life because what is called herd immunity needs to be generated. And the best way to do this is for young people, under the age of 50 or 60 to get along, and tell people with large, pre-existing medical conditions to stay indoors. Thus immunity can be obtained quickly enough.
“The virus is trying to infect the population, that’s what the virus wants to do. If enough people are immunized around someone with a virus, then the virus cannot infect. That is one way to explain herd immunity. But let’s say 70% of the population has a virus, and is immunized in a certain way, that means there are still 30% that can be infected. In other words, it is impossible to return to normal even after reaching herd immunity. You have to hold the limit for some time after that, “he said.
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