Leading Swedish health experts claim the country has a falling coronavirus infection rate because it was one of the few that didn’t go into lockdown and has rejected the need for masks.
Arne Elofsson, a professor in biometrics at Stockholm University, thinks the population has developed a form of immunity: “Strict rules do not work as people seem to break them. Sweden is doing fine.”
Anders Tegnell, an epidemiologist involved in managing Sweden’s pandemic, thinks masks give a false sense of security: “The belief that masks can solve our problem is very dangerous.”
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven thinks voluntary social-distancing rules and not closing schools but banning gatherings of more than 50 people has been the right approach.
“Now there are quite a few people who think we were right,” he told a newspaper. “The strategy that we adopted, I believe is right – to protect individuals, limit the spread of the infection.”
Data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control show Sweden has a fortnightly infection rate of 37 cases per 100,000 people. This is much lower than France, with 60 cases per 100,000 and Spain at 152.7 cases per 100,000.
Experts around the world cannot agree on whether the right approach is to open up schools, scale back lockdowns and wear masks.
Sweden’s approach has come at a cost, having seen 5,810 deaths from COVID-19, which is much more than its neighbors. Scientists are in agreement that it will take months before it is clear which country had the right approach.
Read: Retail sales in the U.K. are back to their pre-coronavirus levels, but here’s why this may not last