Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Feature Coronavirus

Has Sweden’s controversial covid-19 strategy been successful?

BMJ 2020; 369 doi: (Published 12 June 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m2376

Read our latest coverage of the coronavirus pandemic

Rapid Response:

Re: Has Sweden’s controversial covid-19 strategy been successful?

Dear Editor,

there are some critical errors in this feature that should be corrected:

- Schools were closed for students 16 and older. Not younger.
- The antibodies test referenced was not taken on a random sample of the population and cannot be used as evidence of the extent of spread

Also, the article only includes highly critical voices, except for the statements from official sources. This gives a very unbalanced picture. Fact is that there are enormous differences in the spread of the disease throughout Sweden. There are parts of Sweden that have performed better than our neighbouring countries despite them having issued a lockdown and full school closure. Not mentioning this is a glaring omission.

One very interesting difference between Sweden and other Nordic countries is the timing of the winter sports holidays. The Stockholm region, where people travel a lot abroad, had this during week 9, which was the week when the spread really gained momentum in Europe and the US.

The regions in Sweden that had their winter sports holiday week 7-8 have had an order of magnitude lower spread. The vast majority of the population in Denmark, Norway and Finland had their winter sports holiday week 7-8. This is a strong indication that the Stockholm region had a substantially higher number of imported cases. Approximately 1 million people travelled abroad during the month of February and March with most of them travelling to countries that had not yet detected any community spread,

By implying that the Nordic countries all had an equivalent starting point there is a high risk of making serious errors when comparing the efficacy of our different strategies. My hope is that BMJ will choose a science based approach and investigate these differences further.

Competing interests: No competing interests

16 June 2020
Sebastian Ware
Software developer