After widespread criticism for its decision not to implement comprehensive lockdowns or mask requirements, Sweden now has one of the lowest coronavirus infection rates in the world.
“Sweden has gone from being the country with the most infections in Europe to the safest one,” said the country’s senior epidemiologist, Dr. Anders Tegnell, in an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the Gateway Pundit reported.
“What we see now is that the sustainable policy might be slower in getting results, but it will get results eventually,” Tegnell said. “And then we also hope that the result will be more stable.”
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control last week said Sweden’s infection rate is about 12 cases per million, compared to 18 in Denmark and 14 in Norway.
Of 2,500 randomly selected and tested Swedes, zero tested positive, compared to 0.9% positive in April and 0.3% in May, the center said.
“We interpret this as meaning there is not currently a widespread infection among people who do not have symptoms,” said Karin Tegmark, deputy head of the Public Health Agency of Sweden.
Last month, Tegnell explained to Fortune why Sweden didn’t have a mask mandate.
“With numbers diminishing very quickly in Sweden, we see no point in wearing a face mask in Sweden, not even on public transport,” Tegnell said.
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He told reporters last month in Stockholm that the “curves” of infections, hospitalizations and deaths are “going down and the curves for the seriously ill are beginning to approach zero.”
The Gateway Pundit noted top scientists in the Netherlands concluded there is no clear evidence that wearing face masks protects anyone.
“Face masks in public places are not necessary, based on all the current evidence,” said Coen Berends, spokesman for the country’s National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. “There is no benefit and there may even be negative impact.”
Meanwhile, a new study concludes that New York and California may have achieved herd immunity, meaning enough people have developed immunity to significant reduce or eliminate the spread of the coronavirus, reports StudyFinds.com.
Scientists and doctors rely on the “reproduction number” or “R” to determine herd immunity. The number refers to how many people an infected person is likely to transmit the virus. Herd immunity is achieved when the number falls below one. It’s commonly believe that 60% of a population must have been infected to reach herd immunity. However, a recent study showed the number may actually be just 43%.
Mark Last, a professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, said New York was close to herd immunity in June when there were 400,000 confirmed cases. Antibody tests, however, suggested that there may have been six times as many infections, about 2.4 million.
He made a presentation of his paper at the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Medicine on Aug. 26.
If his numbers hold up, New York states’ reproduction rate at the time would be 1.14. Since then, the state has reported a consistent decrease in coronavirus cases. He calculates similar results for California as well as Israel.
“In California, it appears that herd immunity was reached around July 15 with slightly more than 10% of their population (4.05 million) being infected,” Last said in a media release. “This means that their basic reproduction number R0 under current restrictions is only 1.1.”