According to experts, the Swedish authorities want to introduce local lockdowns to curb the rapid spread of the coronavirus in the country.
The move marks a new approach to Sweden's handling of the virus – after the country opened bars and restaurants while the rest of the world closed in March.
"It's more of a lockdown situation – but a local lockdown," Johan Nojd, head of the Infectious Disease Department in Uppsala, told The Telegraph.
The number of coronavirus cases has gradually increased since the beginning of September, dashing the country's hopes for immunity.
On Friday, an average of 65 days per million people per day was reported to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. This is compared to 71, 40 and 25 cases per million in Denmark, Finland and Norway.
Mr Wallensten said, "If I were to speculate on what could be one reason we haven't done it yet, and it's just" still "because the numbers are increasing in Sweden, we are not seeing the same level of transmission as can it be the fact. " We may have had a lighter grade from your point of view. Pictured: New confirmed cases in Sweden every day due to the pandemic
The new rules, expected to go into effect on Monday, will allow regional health officials to urge citizens to avoid public places like shopping malls, museums, libraries, swimming pools, concerts and gyms.
Authorities could also ask people to stay away from public transport or avoid visiting elderly or vulnerable groups. The rules would be offered as guidelines rather than requirements, with the country continuing to avoid fines.
Please Brastad, the agency's chief legal officer, said the new measures were "something between regulations and recommendations," and Dr. Nojd confirmed that further action would be taken if the contact tracing reveals links between infections and specific areas.
The Scandinavian country has been a talking point during the pandemic for its opposition to imposing a national lockdown like its European neighbors.
The move marks a new approach to Sweden's handling of the virus – after the country opened bars and restaurants while the rest of the world closed in March. In the picture people walk on Stranvagen in Stockholm on September 19th
Anders Wallensten, deputy to the state's leading epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, said the country has "some immunity as a result of our handling of the crisis."
Unlike most other countries, Sweden wasn't blocked when the pandemic spread across Europe in the spring.
Instead, the emphasis was on personal responsibility, with most bars, schools, restaurants and salons remaining open while the rest of Europe was closed.
As a result, cases are not rising as dramatically as they are in the UK, Spain and France because a layer of immunity has kept people from catching them, he suggested.
But Mr Wallensten claimed that "herd immunity" was never a target in itself, despite officials repeatedly pointing out that it was.
He said the Swedes hadn't tired of the restrictions because they stayed the same throughout the pandemic to avoid confusion.
The new rules, expected to go into effect on Monday, will allow regional health authorities to urge citizens to avoid public places like shopping malls, museums, libraries, swimming pools, concerts and gyms. In the picture people enjoying a drink in Stockholm in April
Dr. Gabriel Scally, epidemiologist with the Royal Society of Medicine, said the UK government had failed to "deliver clear and consistent communications".
Dr. Anders Tegnell led the nation through the pandemic, previously saying the "world has gone mad" with lockdowns.
Dr. Tegnell has repeatedly insisted that the government's goal was not to achieve rapid herd immunity, but rather to slow the spread of the coronavirus to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.
The herd immunity approach is a "dangerous hazard," say scientists
Herd immunity approaches to addressing the coronavirus crisis are a "dangerous fallacy that is not supported by scientific evidence," warned a group of researchers.
Adopting a herd immunity strategy would not end the pandemic but lead to recurring epidemics, according to an open letter from 80 international researchers published by The Lancet this week.
The authors argue that any strategy that relies on immunity to natural infections with Covid-19 is "flawed," adding that uncontrolled transmission in younger people puts disease and death of an entire population at risk.
Instead, the letter calls for the virus to be suppressed until there is an effective vaccine.
The letter reads: “The arrival of a second wave and recognition of the challenges ahead have sparked renewed interest in what is known as a herd immunity approach, which suggests allowing a large uncontrolled outbreak in the low-risk population while protecting those at risk.
"Proponents suggest that this would lead to the development of infection-acquired immunity in the low-risk population that will ultimately protect those in need of protection."
"This is a dangerous mistake that is not supported by scientific evidence."
The authors warn that there is no evidence of permanent protective immunity after natural infection. Therefore, the strategy could lead to repeated waves of transmission over several years.
This would put vulnerable population groups at risk for the "indefinite future" as it would not end the Covid-19 pandemic, but would instead lead to recurring epidemics.
The researchers argue that defining who is at risk would be "complex", while prolonged isolation of large sections of a population is "practically impossible and highly unethical".
In addition, the authors say that it is still not understood who could be suffering from long-term Covid – when people have symptoms months after being infected.
"The evidence is very clear: Controlling the spread of Covid-19 in the community is the best way to protect our societies and economies until safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics arrive in the months ahead," the letter concludes.
It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock dismissed herd immunity without vaccine as "flawed" and told the Commons it was "just not possible" to separate the elderly and the vulnerable.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Mr Hancock criticized the so-called Great Barrington Declaration calling for the lockdown to be relaxed if the strategy shifts to a herd immunity approach.
Mr. Hancock said, “It is said that if enough people get Covid, we will achieve herd immunity. That is not true.
"Many infectious diseases such as measles, malaria, AIDS and flu never achieve herd immunity, and with signs of re-infection increasing, we shouldn't be confident that we would ever achieve herd immunity to Covid, even if everyone were affected.
"Herd immunity is a flawed goal without a vaccine, even if we could do what we can't."
However, email exchanges received in August from Swedish journalists under Freedom of Information Acts revealed that Dr. Tegnell discussed herd immunity as a target in mid-March.
Mr Wallensten said the restrictions have been "the same all along" – and that may be the reason why no second cases have surfaced in the past few months.
Speaking at a virtual briefing from the Royal Society of Medicine, he said he doesn't believe any country is immune to a second wave of the coronavirus.
“But if I were to speculate on what could be a reason we haven't done it yet, and just because the numbers are increasing in Sweden we don't see the same level of transmission, it could be the fact that we might have done. Take a lighter touch from your point of view, ”he said.
“We had the same limitations all along, and maybe that's why we don't see any major changes. Because transmission has been restricted in the same way throughout.
"Of course, knowing we have had quite a few transmissions in Sweden, there is immunity in some people and this can slow that time down, especially in some areas where there have been more transmissions."
Mr Wallensten said Swedes have not developed the dreaded 'lockdown fatigue' – a phenomenon where the public resists the restrictions because they are tired of the way it affects their lives.
He said, “We're really into it in the long run. And we think pandemic fatigue or whatever people call it is a problem, and maybe that's part of what we're seeing now too.
So far, however, studies have been carried out to determine the extent to which people correspond to our recommendations and the trust they have in the authorities. It has been very good so far and has not really gone back.
"When these balanced recommendations are accepted by people and make sense, it is easier to keep them in place for longer."
Dr. Scally, president of the epidemiology and public health division of the RSM and a member of Independent SAGE, said he thinks the UK government has stalled in dealing with the coronavirus due to its lack of consistency.
He said: 'The problem was in consistent news. One of the most important mantras in public health is to be clear and consistent.
“And unfortunately they are anything but clear and consistent from the government.
“As everyone knows, we were blackmailed to work in our offices in the center of the cities, even if we didn't want to because it would be good for the economy. Then, a few weeks later, the virus counts went up and we were told to stay home if you can.
“It confuses people, they lose hope and faith.
“Clear and consistent government messages are far more important than people who just get tired. Because the survey shows that people don't like this virus and want stricter measures. & # 39;
Mr Wallensten answered some of the burning questions about Sweden's strategy to limit the effects of coronavirus.
He said: “It has been discussed whether Sweden is seeking some protection through herd immunity. That has never been part of our policy.
“From the beginning we tried to make sure that our hospitals can handle the situation and that we protect our elderly and vulnerable people. That was the main goal.
“But during part of our pandemic in Sweden we transmitted a lot. Of course, this transmission itself creates immunity.
“But nobody really knows how much is needed for herd immunity and how long the immunity will last. So it wouldn't have been a very wise goal.
& # 39; We have some immunity as a result of how we did it. But it wasn't a goal itself. & # 39;
Health officials predicted 40 percent of Stockholm's population would have the disease, and by May they had acquired antibodies that can be found in the blood.
Dr. Tegnell said in May that he believes "just over 20 percent" were likely infected with the virus in Stockholm.
The actual figure was 17 percent, according to a review of the evidence published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine in August.
According to public tests in April and May, it is the same as London, although the UK is strictly closed.
Employees who distance themselves socially due to the coronavirus when they have a drink after work in Stockholm on Friday June 26th
King Carl Gustaf of Sweden and Queen Silvia of Sweden watch an adapted set of Verdi's Rigoletto, which uses social distancing measures against the spread of coronavirus disease, at the Royal Opera in Stockholm, Sweden on October 12
The results prompted lead author Professor David Goldsmith to say, “We in the UK should remember that we followed almost the same path as Sweden, as herd immunity was widely discussed here in early March.
"At the moment, despite the strict (but belated) lockdown in the UK and the more measured Swedish response compared to other Scandinavian and European countries, both countries have recorded high average Covid-19 death rates of seven days."
Early in the pandemic, scientists estimated that at least 70 percent of people would have to be immune to the coronavirus for the population to have "herd immunity." Since then the number has been between 20 and 70 percent.
In truth, it is not clear whether herd immunity can ever be achieved, largely based on the assumption that the antibodies will wane in just a few weeks.
The "strategy" is also very controversial as it would involve a high number of cases and therefore a high number of deaths for it to work.
Sweden's death toll per million is much higher than that of some of its closest neighbors of similar population density.
There were 584 deaths per million people in Sweden, compared with 116 in Denmark, 63 in Finland and 51 in Norway. Great Britain is 635.
Dr. Joacim Rocklov, professor of epidemiology at Umea University, said the new local measures showed that Sweden is quietly changing its strategy.
"What has happened in the past few weeks is a move towards a similar model to that in Norway and many other countries," he said.
"It is very obvious that this is a new strategy, but the newspapers are still reporting on the 'Swedish strategy' as if it was agreed in March."
He said he thinks the recurrence of infections in countries with high numbers of cases in the spring calls into question belief in herd immunity.
(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) Nachrichten (t) Coronavirus (t) Sweden