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Swedish State Epidemiologist pins country’s elevated COVID death toll on immigrants

Swedish State Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, the man behind its controversial no-lockdown strategy to tackle COVID-19, has unapologetically defended his approach.

While Sweden’s pandemic death toll of over 15,000 is higher than its Nordic peers combined, Tegnell has ventured that this isn’t due to the authorities’ standalone approach, but due to the composition of the population and the share of immigrants and poorer people.

“Swedish society is very different from the society in Norway and Finland, which we tend to disregard because we share a long history together and have similar languages.”

“COVID doesn’t care about history or language, it cares about socio-economic status or migrant backgrounds or crowded housing. That’s where Sweden stands out in a Nordic context, but not so much in an EU context,” Tegnell told The Financial Times.

At 25.9 percent, Sweden has a higher percentage of people with an immigrant background than its Nordic peers, of which only Norway, where 18.1 percent has a foreign background, has a similar proportion.

Furthermore, Tegnell stuck to his guns and even slammed the likes of Norway for having acted too harshly against the spread of the infection and introducing “draconian measures”.

While emphasising a resurgence of cases in Sweden, which coincides with a broader wave that swept Europe, with neighbouring Norway and Denmark breaking daily infection records despite high vaccination rates exceeding 70 percent, Tegnell cautioned against blanket measures and lockdowns, stressing that the public acceptance of that wouldn’t be there any longer.

In 2020, Sweden made international headlines for its largely unmatched approach in tackling the novel coronavirus. While most Western countries shut down and introduced massive restrictions, Sweden initially continued as before, with only a handful of recommendations in place and no mandates whatsoever. While restrictions were ultimately tightened after months of this business-as-usual approach, Sweden subsequently dismantled them again and has over the course of the autumn lifted most of them.

However, earlier, a government-appointed COVID Commission, which is still evaluating the fruit of the Swedish strategy, berated the authorities for their failure to protect the weakest and the frailest members of society and stressed that the general approach was marked by lateness and a substandard preparedness level.

Overall, Sweden has seen 1.18 million “cases” of COVID, with nearly 15,100 deaths, of which the majority were aged 60 and over.

Despite excess morbidity and mortality, the Swedish approach been praised for being business-friendly and sustainable, as well as having a sparing psychological impact.

Critics, on the other hand, labelled it Darwinist, harsh and erroneous as it at some seemingly relied on the idea of attaining herd immunity, despite conflicting messaging.