Sweden coronavirus press conference, April 7, 2020

Here were the press conference people today:

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And here were the reporters:

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So what were the main points to be said today?

There are 1.32 million cases worldwide. It’s growing a lot in the US, they never fail to say.

In Sweden, there were 7693 cases total, with 490 cases over the last day. And 640 people had been or still were in the intensive care.

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Anders Tegnell, the national epidemiologist, said that it appears the number of new cases per day is going down. Does this mean they have reached the peak? Not sure, because their models hadn’t predicted that the top would come so quickly.

As for the number of fatalities, it is at 591. They showed the graph. The green bars show the filled-in numbers; sometimes there’s a lag until a death is counted as a coronavirus death.

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Then it was time for questions:

One of the reporters asked his question in sign language; the lady at the edge spoke the question out-loud while looking at his hands.

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He asked if people with hearing difficulties or other disabilities were more vulnerable than others in intensive care. The answer was no.

Question: Norway says their epidemic is under control, and they have had only 83 deaths. What’s behind that they have so many fewer deaths?

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Anders Tegnell: (clearing his throat repeatedly) First, we have to think about what it means to have it under control. It means that you don’t have a very large increase, but you still have an increase. Even though they have many restrictive measures in place. There’s two reasons for which Norway has a lower mortality rate than Sweden so far. First, because their infection is mostly among younger people than we have it in Sweden. You can see it very clearly in the age pyramids. And the other reason is that in Norway they have much less spread in retirement homes. We have this discussion with our colleagues in Norway to understand what the difference is in testing and structures, such that Norway retirement homes have been better at controlling the spread in retirement homes than in Sweden.

Questioner continued: In hindsight, do you think we should have done as they did in Norway, which was to have a restriction on visits to retirement homes?

Anders Tegnell: I don’t think that would have made a big difference. That wasn’t where the problem was, it’s more complicated. In reality, visits to retirement homes ended about the same time in Norway and in Sweden.

Question: In Norway, they say that they have gained some time in terms of cases and fatalities. Do you, Anders Tegnell, agree with that description and does it mean that they have been able to flatten their curve?

Anders Tegnell: Those are two different things, winning time and flattening your curve. You can gain time in different ways, one way is to lock everything down as they did in Norway. What that probably does is to kick your curve forward. Now their biggest problem is, how can you open the country back up without getting a very steep curve? Also, when your time comes, what will happen? Will your medical system be able to cope? Here in Sweden, our medical system has coped. It’s been hard, but we’ve done it.

Cue: self-satisfied glare.

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Question from the Norwegian reporter from the other day: I have a question for Anders Tegnell. Are there internal discussions amongst the public health authorities about whether you’ve solved this problem in the correct way?

Anders Tegnell: if we’ve solved … ? My Norwegian needs some help …

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Norwegian reporter again, enunciating carefully: are there internal discussion amongst the public health authorities as to if you’ve solved this problem the right way?

Anders Tegnell: Ah, okay. We have a continual discussion every day about whether we’re doing the right thing, and if we need to do anything differently. If you’ve done it right or wrong, is very hard to know. Different countries have done very different things. Italy took the most drastic measures, but still has a very bad situation. Other countries were more moderate. So … I think we will be analyzing this in the years to come, as to what was effective and what wasn’t. I think the most important is to have a continual analysis like we have, look at the developments, note what isn’t going properly, as we have done with the retirement homes, that there we have a spot that hasn’t worked well. So we have to look at it and see if we can understand what would help it to work better. Also when it comes to restaurants, we see it’s not going well. We pointed this out, and we’re working with provinces and municipalities so that restaurants will be better at handling their responsibilities.

Question from another Norwegian reporter: Over in Norway, we think that each person with coronavirus is infecting 0.7 other people. What is the corresponding statistic in Sweden? Higher or lower?

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Anders Tegnell: Last we looked at it, we were around 1.7 or 1.8. I don’t know where the statistics from Norway came from. The statistics we have suggest it should be somewhat higher in Norway. But I’ll have to talk to my Norwegian colleagues to see how they calculated that.

Norwegian reporter continued: You don’t believe our statistics?

Anders Tegnell: I don’t believe anything until I’ve seen the developments.


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