Sweden's 'herd immunity' hopes are fading as only a small fraction of the population has coronavirus antibodies

People distance themselves socially in a Stockholm mall on May 12, 2020.
HENRIK MONTGOMERY / TT NEWS AGENCY / AFP via Getty Images
Only 6.1% of the Swedish population had developed coronavirus antibodies by the end of May, a lower figure than some previous models from the health agency had predicted.
Unlike most European countries, Sweden has not imposed a strict block and opened schools, restaurants and bars, but has relied on citizens to take voluntary social distancing measures.
Unlike most European countries, Sweden has not imposed a strict block and opened schools, restaurants and bars, but has relied on citizens to take voluntary social distancing measures.
Anders Tegnell, the country's chief epidemiologist, admitted that fewer people had developed antibodies than the health authorities had predicted.
In April, he told the Financial Times that he expects 40% of people in Stockholm, the capital, to be immune to Covid-19 by the end of May.
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Sweden's gentle approach to the corona virus has resulted in only a small proportion of the population developing antibodies to the virus. This means that the country is highly unlikely to fight the virus by achieving herd immunity.
A new study released this week showed that only 6.1% of the Swedish population had developed coronavirus antibodies by the end of May, a level less than some of the earlier models from the health agency had predicted.
Unlike most European countries, Sweden has not imposed a strict block and opened schools, restaurants and bars, but has relied on citizens to take voluntary social distancing measures.
Health officials have insisted that this is not the specific goal of his approach, which is to prevent a second wave and slow the virus down so that health services are not overwhelmed, Reuters reported.
However, the country's extremely controversial approach has been linked to the herd immunity strategy, as the government expected a large proportion of the population to be infected with the disease.
Anders Tegnell, the country's chief epidemiologist, told the Financial Times in April that he expected 40% of people in Stockholm, the capital, to be immune to Covid-19 by the end of May.
However, the 6.1% figure shows that it is very far from achieving partial herd immunity, which epidemiologists expect at least 60% of the population to be immune to the coronavirus, according to a New York Times report. Once this portion of a population is infected, the transmission of the disease is very small because people are immune to antibodies and do not pass them on to others.
"The spread is smaller than expected, but not much smaller," said Anders Tegnell on Thursday, according to Reuters.
"At this point we have different levels of immunity for different parts of the population, from 4% to 5% to 20% to 25%."
The number of fatalities among Swedish corona viruses was over 5,000 this week, which means that the mortality rate per capita is much higher than that of neighboring Scandinavian countries and one of the highest in the world.
Update: An earlier version of this article referred to research that indicated that 90% of the population would need to purchase antibodies to the coronavirus. In the studies, however, the amount required for measles and not for the coronavirus was described.
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