Covid-19 pandemic: Swedes lose faith in ‘herd immunity’ strategy with coronavirus rampant

Swedish confidence in the nation’s strategy to fight the coronavirus pandemic has slumped, with concerns over capacity in the health-care system now almost universal. A poll by DN/Ipsos published on Thursday showed that 82% of Swedes are either “somewhat” or “very worried” as to whether their health-care system can meet the challenge facing it.

Confidence in the authorities’ ability to fight the virus sank to 42% of those polled from 55% in October. Meanwhile, 44% of Swedes fear authorities aren’t doing enough to fight the virus, compared with 31% last month.

Sweden’s decision to avoid a lockdown has been controversial from the get-go, as it coincided with a considerably higher death rate than in the country’s Nordic neighbors. After a relatively calm summer, daily cases have started to spike and hospitals are filling up.

As of Thursday, just over 70% of Sweden’s intensive care beds were occupied, with 220 of those patients suffering from Covid-19. The country has a total of 642 ICU beds, though there’s scope to add capacity if needed, health authorities say.

“It is quite obvious that the increased rate of infection, combined with the measures that the authorities have taken, have led to a sharp rise in concern,” Nicklas Kallebring, an analyst at Ipsos, told DN.

At a press briefing with Prime Minister Stefan Lofven on Thursday, Johan Carlson, director-general of Sweden’s Public Health Agency, presented slides showing the daily case rate could move toward 8,000 in December. Over the past week, Sweden has seen an average of roughly 4,700 new cases a day. Carlson said he expects the spread to peak next month.

The national statistics agency said earlier this week that the impact of the Covid crisis will dent life expectancy in Sweden, after over a century of almost uninterrupted growth.

In a recent OECD study, Sweden consistently ranked among the hardest hit nations in Europe, as measured by relative Covid mortality and infection rates. It was also the slowest at containing transmission.

“In a third wave, the health-care system will be even more strained than it has been so far,” Thomas Linden, a departmental head at Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare, said on Tuesday.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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