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Sweden maintains low infection rate despite not having lockdown in place
April 24, 2020
Over the last three days, Sweden averaged 53 infections per million people. Meanwhile, in Britain, the figure was 66 despite the stringent prevention measures that have been in place for a month.
Britain’s three-day average has been consistently higher than Sweden’s since March 28, five days after the Government introduced the lockdown.
The death rates in both countries have been very much alike despite even though Britain has had strict social distancing measures in place.
The government of Sweden did not make self-isolation compulsory, only asking its citizens to take “individual responsibility”.
Prime minister Stefan Lofven said: “This crisis will continue for a long time. It will be tough. But our society is strong.
“If everyone takes their responsibility, together we will overcome it.
“Our government agencies and our health care system are doing everything they can.
“But every person in Sweden needs to take individual responsibility. If everyone takes responsibility, we can keep the spread of the virus in check.”
While Britain’s shops, bars and restaurants have been thrown into crisis due to the strict measures preventing them from opening, businesses in Sweden remained open.
Professor Heneghan, director of Oxford University’s centre for evidence-based medicine, warned that the consequences of lockdown could “outweigh” those of Covid-19.
The practising GP told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The key is no-one has really understood how many people actually have the infection.
“You could do that really quickly with random sampling of a thousand people in London who thought they had the symptoms.
“You could do that in the next couple of days and get a really key handle on that problem and we’d be able to then understand coming out of lockdown much quicker.
“In fact, the damaging effect now of lockdown is going to outweigh the damaging effect of coronavirus.”
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Professor Heneghan argued that the peak of infections had occurred before the social distancing measures were put in place – suggesting that the earlier hand-washing and social distancing advice, similar to Sweden’s guidance, had been sufficient to halt the spread of the virus.
He told MailOnline: “The peak of deaths occurred on April 8, and if you understand that then you work backwards to find the peak of infections. That would be 21 days before then, right before the point of lockdown.”
Prof Heneghan was referring to the average time lag between infection and death is usually three weeks.
In that case, if deaths peaked on April 8, that means then infections could have reached the highest point as early as March 18.
Professor Heneghan said: “The UK Government keeps saying it is using the best science.
“But it appears to be losing sight of what’s actually going on. We’ve been getting scientific advice that is consistently wrong.
“It has failed to look at all the data and understand when the peak of infections actually occurred.”
He added: “Fifty percent reductions in infections occurred on March 16, right when hand washing and social distancing was introduced.
“If you go look at what’s happening in Sweden, they are holding their nerve and they haven’t had doomsday scenario. Our Government has got it completely the wrong way around.”