Sweden turns on WHO for saying it had suffered 'very significant resurgence' of Covid-19
Anders Tegnell - MAGNUS ANDERSSON / TT News Agency / AFP via Getty Images
Swedish state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell struck back at the World Health Organization after admitting Sweden to a group of countries where the "resurgence" of coronavirus infections was "very important".
Mr. Tegnell, who has become one of the most well-known and controversial epidemiologists in the world in recent months, said: "Unfortunately, this is a complete misinterpretation of the data."
"It is very unfortunate that people are bringing Sweden together with countries that previously had no problems at all and are now apparently at the beginning of their epidemic," he told SVT, the Swedish state broadcaster.
Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, on Thursday named Sweden in a list of eleven problem countries, all of which are located in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus or Central Asia and which are at risk of "accelerated transmission" of infections.
"For weeks I've been talking about the risk of a resurgence if countries adjust measures. This risk has now become a reality in several countries across Europe," warned Kluge.
In Sweden, the daily number of confirmed cases more than tripled from 60 on June 1st to 207 on Thursday.
However, Mr. Tegnell argued that this had more to do with increased testing than infection recurrence.
"This is growing because we have recently started testing for everyone with symptoms," he told the Swedish TT-Newswire. "We are doing twice as many tests as a few weeks ago. But the growth we see is in mild cases, not in hospital admissions."
Mr. Tegnell has generated both admiration and criticism internationally for leading a coronavirus strategy that opened schools for 14- to 16-year-olds during the pandemic, as well as bars, restaurants, gyms, and more, and instead focused on that Has left the public willingness to follow social networks distance guidelines.
Since April, the Swedish mortality rate has dropped significantly ahead of Norway, Denmark and Finland, all of which imposed much more stringent barriers. Sweden has registered 5,280 coronavirus deaths - more than four times as many as in all other Nordic countries combined.
Mr. Tegnell attributed the difference to the fact that the infection could not be prevented from spreading in old people's homes in Stockholm and that many trips to and from Sweden were made in late February.
The daily number of hospital admissions and deaths has now steadily declined, Tegnell told TT.
"The most stable data source is the number of new admissions to the intensive care unit," he said, "and we have seen a decline there for a long time. Now there are only a few admissions per day in Stockholm and some other regions."
Countries across Europe, including neighbors Denmark, Norway and Finland, have refused to allow vacation trips to and from Sweden due to the high number of recently confirmed cases, which, according to Tegnell, made Mr Kluge's statements even more undesirable.
"It is certainly serious, especially in this situation where there is a lot of discussion about which countries people can travel to, this kind of statement is extremely unfortunate."
"The number of admissions to the intensive care unit is very small and even the number of deaths is decreasing," said Tegnell.
"We are now at a level at which no more people die than in the same weeks in previous years."
According to the Swedish Health Department, around 10 coronavirus patients are admitted to intensive care units daily, compared to 45-50 per day in April.
Last month, Sweden more than doubled its Covid-19 tests and only started offering mass tests to the public last week, a delay that was heavily criticized.
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