Sweden coronavirus press conference, April 2, 2020

At this point, the total number of global cases is 928,000. In Sweden, there are 5466 cases, of which 519 are people who newly became sick the last day. That’s the most new cases in a day so far. And 429 people have been in intensive care.

Here’s who was at the press conference today:

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These three are Taha Alexandersson, Anders Tegnell, and Svante Werger.

Anders Tegnell is the chief epidemiologist for Sweden, and this is what he had to say about the situation today:

— They have reached a new and higher level of increase — about 500 new cases a day.
— The number of new intensive care cases is more flat in its increase (the black line below). There is still capacity in intensive care for more patients, and new intensive care units have been built.

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Anders Tegnell also said: The cases among old people is unfortunately going up. There are a number of retirement homes where infections have occurred, not just in Stockholm, but in other places around the country.

Anders Tegnell: The curve is starting to be steeper, but overall, I think we still have a fairly flat curve.

Then they gave some advice about playing sports that I thought was interesting. Anders Tegnell said: we think it’s especially important for young people to be active, to play sports, to be outside a lot, to move around. They simply caution that sports teams shouldn’t be traveling around for competitions and recommend avoiding sports with lots of physical contact. If possible, hold practices outside.

There was a question from Thomas Moore, a British journalist. He asked in English: I’m sure you’ve looked at the same evidence as the UK government from Imperial College (doesn’t explain what that evidence is). Why do you disagree with that evidence, how confident are you in Sweden’s approach even now as deaths rise, and do you think the UK government will come to regret its decision to lock down the country?

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The British journalist

Anders Tegnell (answers in English also): That’s a lot of questions. If anyone would regret what they’ve been doing at this time, probably to a certain extent. It’s always much easier to look in the mirror and see what we should have done. But I’m quite confident all governments today are really trying to do the best they can do under the circumstances, I mean, there’s no hidden agenda, definitely not in Sweden. Imperial’s report, it’s not a published report — it’s a report from the University. It has flaws like all these reports have. All of these reports build on basic data that’s not very clear yet. We don’t know the variables we need to know very clearly at this stage. Which means your choice of variables and how you measure them would influence the results very very much, and there’s a number of different prognoses out there that vary widely, and show us how difficult it is to understand where we are and where we’re going. I think so far the projection we have done in Sweden, we have followed them pretty well, so far.

Question: a six-month-old baby died in the US of coronavirus, and a couple of kids under 14 in Europe.

Anders Tegnell: when you have 1 million cases of an illness, you’re always going to get a few exceptional cases, even if children are not the primary ones to get sick.

And there were quite a few questions about spread of coronavirus in retirement homes, both at the press conference, and later when they took Anders Tegnell into what looks like the cold outdoors for a further interview:

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Question: Do you know through what mechanism coronavirus spread in the retirement homes? Was it because of people visiting, or was it because workers there didn’t have the right protective equipment?

Anders Tegnell: we don’t know yet … still looking into that, and we need to know, because the situation in the retirement homes needs to get better.

Question: If it was because of lack of protective equipment, will workers in the retirement homes get that equipment now?

Anders Tegnell: I’m not sure it was because of lack of protective gear …

Question: Should you have taken the decision about forbidding visits to retirement homes earlier?

Anders Tegnell: We had a recommendation about that for a long time. Now unfortunately we have more people in retirement homes getting sick, and so therefore, we had to make a clear signal that there should be no more visits.

Question: How is it possible that we could have such widespread coronavirus spread in the retirement homes?

Anders Tegnell: Well, it’s in Stockholm that this is happening. It’s a question we’d have to ask the city of Stockholm. We don’t have any more information other than we know it’s happening.

Question: We see a lot of old people out on the streets. They’re not listening to what you’re saying about staying home.

Anders Tegnell: yes, I think we are trying to have the best information campaign we can so we can reach them. I think information is better than putting restrictions in place that people then try to find a way around. Of course, old people still need to be able to go out and move around. It’s very important. It’s not being outside that’s dangerous, it’s the close social contacts, and in fact, close social contacts inside are the most dangerous.

Question: The curve is going up now. What’s the prognosis?

Anders Tegnell: yes, it is going up and we need to do some more research into this. If our prognosis is correct, then we’ll stay at this level for a few more weeks. And then hopefully we will reach the top and go down.

Question: Any evidence that we’re building up some herd immunity?

Anders Tegnell: Not yet, but that’s evidence that we’re working on collecting. In a month, we hope we’ll be close to a herd immunity that would allow us to slow down the infection rate. When you get to 20-25% immunity in the society, then the infection rate will start being much slower. We’ve had a month of relatively slow increases, which means it can take us a while to get to the top of the curve; which is good, because that gives the medical resources a chance to cope.




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