Sweden coronavirus press conference, April 15, 2020

On this day, there were 1.9 million cases globally. In Sweden, there were 11,927 cases. And about 1200 deaths in Sweden.

Yesterday, Anders Tegnell, who is the national epidemiologist, got a grilling, so he must have been tired. So today, it was Anders Wallensten talking. He’s the vice-national epidemiologist.

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He said: we think we finally have most of the lag-reported cases in the system from the Easter weekend. And it looks cautiously positive, because as you can see, the new numbers of daily cases has gone down compared to before Easter. We should, though, wait another day to see if any more lag-reported cases come through.

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They showed then graphs that showed only cases for different regions of the country (Göteborg and Skåne). They were showing that things are pretty stable in those regions.

Then they showed the graph of deaths by day. Wallensten said, we still might get lag-reportevd deaths, but he said it was good that it appeared the number of deaths had gone down compared to before Easter.

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Reporter question: The death rate has been increasing, but the number of people going into the intensive care has stayed constant. Are there signals that we’ve not been admitting everyone into intensive care who needed it, since there’s a gap between people in intensive care and the death rate?

Anders Wallensten: I haven’t gotten such signals. (Turns to Johanna Sandvall)

Johanna Sandvall: no, absolutely not. (Not sure what she said by way of explanation, but she ends with:) those who need care, get it.

Reporter question: have you done any analysis of what happened during the Easter long weekend such that cases have gone down?

Anders Wallensten: well, the numbers of deaths are usually people who have been in intensive care for a few weeks. So it’s hard to say that the Easter holiday had anything to do with that. But it could be that the measures we took earlier and changes that were made have led to this. But we have to look further to see if this is a true reduction.

Question: what percent of the population has or has had coronavirus, do you think?

Anders Wallensten: that’s a very good question, because it affects when we can start taking away some of these restrictions. If there is an immunity among the people, that helps to stop the spread. We’ll know more once antibody tests have been developed. Unfortunately, we haven’t gotten those tests approved yet.

Follow-up  question: well, last week Anders Tegnell said it was 10% so … oh, and then I got bored so forget this question.

Question: you’ve gotten quite a bit of criticism recently. Has it made your work harder?

Anders Wallensten (trying to be very nonchalant): Well, I think most of the criticism was yesterday. It continues. We have also support from a great deal of researchers out there, so there’s different pictures of our work. As you’ve seen, we’ve stood our line and we’re working from what we believe in as far as infectious disease goes.

Question: the fact that there were fewer cases over the Easter holiday, do you think it was because less testing was done?

Anders Wallensten: ah, that I have a hard time believing. We’re talking about patients here, and they are all tested. Of course, as we start to test more people (I thought they’d already started doing that two weeks ago) who have mild symptoms, like medical staff and the like, we can get a false increase in the graph again. So what we try to do is to separate those who are tested for reasons other than sickness to be able to follow this curve under the same conditions, and not have it change because we changed our testing strategy.

Then it was back to the Studio. This lady was the main newscaster:

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who if you remember, has been a sidekick reporter at earlier press conferences. Now she was the lead.

And she had a very nice conversation with the day’s reporter, Iva Horvatovic, who we’ve seen so often before. They summarized all the coronavirus news.

At one point, Iva Horvatovic was explaining all the different ways countries have of counting coronavirus deaths, such as:

  • in Belgium, they count almost everyone who dies in retirement homes as having died of coronavirus (whether or not there’s an official test done, I guess)
  • in the UK, they are only counting people who die in the hospital. If they counted people who die elsewhere, the statistics would rise by a couple hundred
  • in New York, they are counting even people who are suspected of having coronavirus, even if it’s not confirmed

They were bringing this up in light of worldwide coordination.

Then it was time for the individual interview with Anders Wallensten.

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Anders Wallensten

Question: Today, there are 170 deaths. How can we interpret that?

Anders Wallensten: those figures are spread out over several days, not just one. The number of deaths per day has not gone up, so maybe it’s a little lift.

Question: where do we find ourselves on the curve?

Wallensten: I think it might be that we have approached a change in the direction. But I want to wait a day or two longer to confirm that, to make sure there’s not numbers leftover from the Easter holiday that we’ve missed.

Question: an abnormally high number of people died the first week in April. Yesterday it was said that only in certain cases is a dead person tested for coronavirus, if the disease had not already been confirmed. Can it be that the statistics are wrong and that they are missing people who died of coronavirus?

Wallensten: We have another system to check for mortality of coronavirus — we check if there’s more deaths than usual. We do see a certain increase in deaths. We’ll continue to analyze that.

Question: how is the disease developing in the rest of the country?

Wallensten: we are always keeping our eye on that. But we don’t see large increases anywhere the way that we had in Stockholm.

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