Posted 7 days ago
Sweden has now overtaken the UK, Italy and Belgium to have the highest coronavirus per capita death rate in the world, throwing its decision to avoid a strict lockdown into further doubt.
According to figures collated by the Our World in Data website, Sweden had 6.08 deaths per million inhabitants per day on a rolling seven-day average between May 13 and May 20.
This is the highest in the world, above the UK, Belgium and the US, which have 5.57, 4.28 and 4.11 respectively.
However, Sweden has only had the highest death rate over the past week, with Belgium, Spain, Italy, the UK and France, still ahead over the entire course of the pandemic.
State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, the spokesman for Sweden's outlier coronavirus strategy, dismissed the figures on Tuesday night, arguing that it was misleading to focus on the death toll over a single week.
"This is something we should look at when it's all over," he told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper. "It is of course terrible that we have such a higher death toll at our elderly care homes, and there are lessons to be learned for those who work in these institutions."
It comes after study found that just 7.3 per cent of people in Stockholm developed Covid-19 antibodies by late April, which could fuel concern that avoiding a lockdown may bring little herd immunity.
Sweden's decision to keep open schools, bars and restaurants, and to continue to allow gatherings of up to 50 people, has been praised by many of those seeking an early end to restrictions. Supporters argue that the country is better equipped to avoid a 'second wave' as the population may have built up a degree of herd immunity.
Mr Tegnell said on Wednesday that more than one in five people in Stockholm were believed to have developed antibodies to the virus, where over a third of Sweden's confirmed cases have been recorded.
But as its neighbours in Norway, Denmark, and Finland, who all put in place much tighter restrictions, have seen dramatically lower numbers of deaths over the past month, the strategy has also come under growing criticism.
Frodo Forland, Norway's state epidemiologist, last week complained that there had been almost no critical debate or media coverage of the h... (Read more)