‘Nowhere in sight’: Sweden shows no signs of herd immunity developing

free spread of covid in sweden didnt lead to herd immunity
People stroll, sunbathe and swim at a bathing jetty in Malmo, Sweden, in June. Credit: EPA-EFE/Johan Nilsson/TT
[Sweden] didn’t enforce a lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but instead advised citizens on how to behave. Shops, restaurants, and gyms stayed open, but schools and universities closed to over-16s, and large-scale gatherings of more than 50 people were banned. Over-70s and those with COVID-19 symptoms were told to self-isolate.

The country harnessed its concept of folkvett, or the common sense of the people as a collective, to try to combat the disease, professor David Goldsmith, a retired physician, and Eric Orlowski of the department of anthropology at the University College London, wrote in a commentary in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. The commentary was titled “Four months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Sweden’s prized herd immunity is nowhere in sight.”

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“The Swedish experience of attempting to achieve this, compared to other Nordic countries’ responses, resulted in much higher numbers of infections and deaths per capita, in addition to a prolonged outbreak. Moreover, far fewer Swedes than predicted generated antibodies to the coronavirus, suggesting the strategy failed to generate widespread protective immunity.

“These findings should prove a salutary warning, that appealing concepts and theories require supporting data when people’s lives are at stake and should not be used to fit preconceived narratives,” [said microbiologist Simon Clarke.]

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