Sweden coronavirus press conference, April 10, 2020

This press conference was different from all the others. This time, all the speakers (and there were four) were women. How nice.

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Instead of either Anders Tegnell or Anders Wallensten, the main epidemiologist was this lady. She speaks so nicely and clearly. Anders Tegnell is always slurring his words and ending in a mutter. Her name is Karin Tegmark-Wisell.

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Karin Tegmark-Wisell

On this day, there were 1.56 million cases worldwide. They start by saying, oh, it’s bad in the US. There were 9685 cases total in Sweden. They say, like the last few days, that new cases appear to have hit a plateau (remembering that the dip in cases is due to lag reporting during the weekends).

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By the way, remember how yesterday Anders Tegnell kept talking about how a person carries the virus for about five days? A reporter asked today, what did he mean by five days?

Karin Tegmark-Wissel answered: it is referring to people with mild cases of the virus. Studies have shown that the first five days of infection is the period during which the virus most infects new cells and populates, and after that, it drops off.

Now, even though all the speakers were women, Anders Tegnell was actually joining them through audio link. And the reporters were able to ask him questions if they wanted to. What was the point of that? And the only reporter to ask him a question was a man, of course. He needed his fellow man to confirm what all the women had already said.

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Motioning with solemn hands

Any case, this guy asked: there’s been reports of a 60-year-old birthday party from which several people got infected, very early on in the coronavirus epidemic. Was this a super-spreader event, and should the Public Health Authorities have had restrictions in place earlier?

Anders Tegnell: Well, it’s very hard to say. We can say that the development of coronavirus in Sweden doesn’t at all look like what it does in places that did have these super-spreader events, where you have a very dramatic spread after such events. Like Karin said, we’ve had a pretty slow spread the whole time. And that speaks loudly to that we didn’t have a single event that led to a kick-off of the virus.

That same man reporter then needs to ask Anders Tegnell a second question, to access more of his authority. He asks his questions in a super annoying way, too — really slow, as though what he is asking is of such weight and import that he cannot do otherwise than weigh each word for 3 seconds before uttering it with the appropriate mien of gravity. God, he’s annoying! Lord have mercy, just SPIT IT OUT.

Question: (in my quick paraphrasing of his long-winded and unnecessary wording): Compared to the spread of the virus in neighboring countries, should the Public Health Authorities have made stricter recommendations on gatherings earlier?

Anders Tegnell: I think it’s too early to draw conclusions there. There’s so many other things happening at the same time. In Sweden, there’s very little evidence that large gatherings of people had an effect on coronavirus spread, because we haven’t seen these large jumps in the number of cases that would have resulted. Instead, we’ve had a very slow climb that is evidence that we had fewer cases of spread occurring in many different places from many different people.

When the press conference was over, they had an interview outside with Karin Tegmark-Wissel.

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Karin Tegmark-Wissel

She says: even though we’ve reached a plateau, keep in mind that still means a large number of  new cases every day. It’s really important to still be trying to stop the spread. Don’t interpret this as: oh, it’s calm now. No, there’s a large strain with the medical resources, we need to still be careful.

Reporter: what would have to happen in the near future so that you could indeed confirm that we are actually in a plateau?

Karin Tegmark-Wissel: we’d need a couple of weeks with a stable number of new cases per day.

Reporter: What about spread in retirement homes?

Karin Tegmark-Wissel: this is very bad.

Reporter: who’s responsibility is it to stop the spread?

Karin Tegmark-Wissel: It’s a shared responsibility between the public, the authorities, but most of all, it’s up to the people managing the retirement homes to look over all their routines and turn over every stone to make sure that people working in the retirement homes are staying home when sick, even with just the tiniest little symptom.

Reporter: what’s the situation looking like globally?

Karin Tegmark-Wissel: Well, there’s some plateauing of new cases in Spain and Italy. But there’s word that small outbreaks keep popping up in China. This is really worrying, and we don’t know the outlook for the “second wave” of illness.

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