Sweden’s prime minister has ordered an inquiry into the country’s decision not to impose a coronavirus lockdown after the country suffered thousands more deaths than its closest neighbours.
“We have thousands of dead,” Swedish prime minister Stefan Lofven said at a press conference on Wednesday while admitting that the country’s handling had exposed Sweden’s “shortcomings,” The Times of London reported.
“Now the question is how Sweden should change, not if.”
Unlike most other European countries, including its closest neighbours, Sweden did not implement strict, wholesale lockdown measures in response to the pandemic. Instead, the country has largely allowed businesses and hospitality to remain open and students to attend school.
In May, Sweden’s state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, justified this response by saying that countries that imposed strict lockdowns would likely suffer large second waves later in the year, whereas Sweden’s would be smaller.
“In the autumn there will be a second wave,” Tegnell told the Financial Times. “Sweden will have a high level of immunity and the number of cases will probably be quite low.”
However, the strategy appears to have failed, with recent data suggesting the virus has spread faster in Sweden since Tegnell’s remarks two months ago, while failing to stimulate sufficient antibodies in the community to prevent a second wave.
A study published in May suggested that a small number of people in Stockholm, 7.3%, had developed coronavirus antibodies, casting doubt over whether Sweden could achieve herd immunity in the near future.