Sweden’s special way of dealing with the corona virus repeatedly causes discussions – after all, the country regularly questions the restrictions that other governments impose on their people. If you speak to Sweden, however, you will see that they are by and large satisfied with the course of their government.
In early summer, however, the mood threatened to change when the number of infections and the death rate were at times significantly higher than in neighboring countries. The first wave of infections between April and June hit Sweden particularly hard. In the nursing homes in particular, the pandemic claimed an above-average number of victims.
No corona deaths for weeks
However, with visitor bans, upper limits for events and tireless appeals to the population, it was possible to significantly reduce the number of new infections every day over the summer. For weeks, the country was even able to report that there was not a single corona death. And as the numbers normalized, doubts subsided too.
To this day, Sweden primarily relies on voluntary measures. Nationwide school closings or masking requirements have not yet existed in Sweden. Now that the so-called “second wave” of the pandemic is wandering through the population in many European countries and the number of cases is rising again in Sweden, fear is also returning among many Viking descendants.
Horrible suspicion: Numerous lives could have been saved
Reports about events during the first wave are causing a stir: numerous senior citizens who died in nursing homes could have been saved, they say. That wouldn’t just be a harrowing scandal. This scandal would also have something to do with the government’s Corona course. Surf tip: You can find all the news about the corona pandemic in the news ticker from FOCUS Online
On the one hand, as is well known, Sweden relies on “contaminating” the population over time and thus keeping the virus in check for the long term – instead of waiting for vaccines. This was risky, especially at the beginning of the pandemic. Because at that time there was still no talk of an infection: an uncontrolled spread could easily have resulted in the number of intensive care patients skyrocketing and the capacities of hospitals exploding.
“We were forced to let people die before our eyes”
Meticulous care was therefore taken to ensure that enough free beds were always available in the intensive care units. As long as this was the case, the authorities and the government were able to appease and reject criticism of the Swedish special route. At the same time, guidelines had been developed as to who should receive intensive treatment in the event of an overload of the health apparatus and who should not. In other words: who gets a bed and who has to die if in doubt. Accordingly, people with a high “biological age” or previous illnesses in particular have bad cards.
Fortunately, this has not happened so far – not even during the first wave: there were always enough free beds. According to reports, however, the requirements may have caused some homes and clinics not to give everyone the help they could.
“We were forced to let people die in front of our eyes, even though we knew that they had a good chance of survival in intensive care,” reported a hospital doctor to the newspaper “Dagens Nyheter”. Relatives report similar incidents in other media and on Swedish television: Again and again, morphine was administered and euthanasia was performed instead of giving the sick the best possible help.
Sweden’s chief epidemiologist signals a change of heart
There are no official findings on this yet. And such cases are certainly no reason to assume that the Swedes are intentional or even to conclude that the Swedes are essentially cold towards older fellow citizens, as some German media now want to suggest. After all, there are always fatal mishaps in the care of the elderly and the sick, and even deliberate killings. But the price Sweden pays for its liberal course in the fight against the coronavirus may be higher than it would like to admit to itself.
Now it remains to be seen whether one would like to continue unreservedly on this course in the north. In fact, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell recently signaled a certain change of heart: For the first time, he was open to exit restrictions and school closings.
“Today all European countries follow the Swedish model”
But even then, Tegnell would want to see this limited to individual districts and a few weeks. “Opening and closing has an extremely negative effect on trust and has significantly more negative effects than keeping measures at a certain level,” said Tegnell, explaining his philosophy to the Guardian.
So it remains the same: Sweden primarily trusts – in itself. And it continues to attract criticism, but also interest from abroad. “Today all European countries are more or less following the Swedish model combined with the procedures of testing, contact tracing and isolation that the Germans have introduced,” Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute for Global Health in Geneva, told the New York Times . “But nobody wants to admit that.”