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Friday, January 1, 2021

Corona - lockdown and ways of World - Sweden changing its belligerent stance !!

Princess Sofia of Sweden was in  news .. .. .. as she started working in hospital to help the country's fight against coronavirus. The royal, 35, who is married to Prince Carl Philip, 40,  took a three-day medical course at Sophiahemmet University College in Stockholm, where she is an honorary chair member.   Princess Sofia, Duchess of Värmland  probably did not celebrate her birthday on 6th Dec in a big way – as the glamour model ,  tested positive for Covid-19.  However, this photo was released that marks the first appearance from the royal since she and husband Prince Carl Philip, 41, were diagnosed with coronavirus last month.


India is a very vast country with 138 crores population – unlike many  Western countries, if you are to walk in areas like Triplicane, within 10 minutes you could encounter more than 1000 persons !!  - that is the population density.

The good news is active coronavirus cases in India dropped below the 4-lakh mark as recoveries surpassed new cases over the past 24 hours when 32,981 fresh COVID-19 infections were detected against 8 lakh tests, government data shows. In this period, up to 391 people died fighting the viral disease, which has claimed 1,40,573 lives in the country so far. India's overall coronavirus tally now stands at 96.77 lakh. Many smaller states where infection rate spiked in the run up to festivals in November have imposed night curfews for most part of December. These states are: Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. 

With such a large number of tests – the fact that cases are coming down is really a good thing to note and the success is to be attributed to the planning, strategy, especially the lockdown that was announced from 24.3.2020 and followed month, after month.  In a country of 138 crores population with so many States, political parties – really a grand accomplishment.

Between 1974 and 1992, Swedish tennis aces Björn Borg, Stefan Edberg and Mats Wilander won 24 Grand Slam singles titles, just one less than the 25 Slam titles earned in the same period by U.S. players, including Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Arthur Ashe. Sweden also won the Davis Cup seven times between 1975 and 1998 and Thomas Johansson won the Australian Open in 2002. Since then, no player has won a major tournament.

Sweden (officially the Kingdom of Sweden)  is a Nordic country in Northern Europe surrounded by Norway, Finland, connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund Strait. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe, the third-largest country in the European Union and the fifth largest country in Europe by area. The capital city is Stockholm. Sweden has a total population of 10.3 million  of which 2.6 million have a foreign background.  It is a country of wisemen. In the 18th century Sweden's scientific revolution took off.  In 1739, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences was founded, with people such as Carl Linnaeus and Anders Celsius as early members.

While India went into lockdown, Sweden rejected it  Swedish state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell rejected a warning from the World Health Organization stating  it was a "total misinterpretation of the data". Sweden had seen a rise in cases, he argued, because it was testing more. (sounds familiar !)  On 5 April, Anders Tegnell, chief epidemiologist for the Swedish public health authority, sent an email to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) expressing concern about proposed new advice that face masks worn in public could slow the spread of the pandemic coronavirus. “We would like to warn against the publication of this advice,” Tegnell wrote. How much people without symptoms contribute to spread was a “question that remains unanswered,” he wrote, and the advice “would also imply that the spread is airborne, which would seriously harm further communication and trust among the population and health care workers.”

Now the trend has reversed. Sweden's failed coronavirus herd immunity gamble came at a high cost of lives and the country could still have to implement a lockdown to tackle the spread, experts say. Sweden has gained international attention for its unorthodox response to the pandemic. It has shunned lockdowns and widespread use of face masks and instead relied on mainly voluntary measures, even as the pandemic hit the country increasingly hard. Some of the results of this approach are borne out in simple numbers. There have been 225,560 cases of coronavirus in Sweden, a country of 10 million, and 6,500 people have died.

For comparison, there have been 27,854 cases and 907 deaths in Australia, which has a population of 25 million. Against numbers from large countries like the US, India or Brazil, Sweden's tallies don't seem too bad. But when those case statistics are looked at in another context, a different picture emerges. "They say 'yeah, we've got more deaths than Finland and Norway, but we've got fewer deaths than Belgium, Italy, Spain and the UK', sure," Professor Goldsmith said. Chair in Epidemiology at Deakin University, Professor Catherine Bennett, said Sweden's case fatality rate was about 3 per cent, compared to about 1 per cent across the rest of Scandinavia. "That's an extraordinary death rate," she told the ABC.

If one were to compare cases per 1 million people – it is 26991 in Sweden as against 7113 of India.  Sweden's COVID-19 death toll per capita is more than 10 times Norway's and nearly five times that of Denmark. In the early days of the pandemic, Sweden was only testing about 25,000 people at most each day.  Sweden's approach to dealing with coronavirus was flawed from the start, according to Professor David Goldsmith, the lead author of a paper published by the UK's Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. In it, Professor Goldsmith examined what went wrong with Sweden's policy and why its case mortality rate is about triple that of its Scandinavian neighbours.  "Sweden, unfortunately, have done the wrong thing in the wrong way," Professor Goldsmith told the ABC. "They thought they were going to get this herd immunity nonsense." While herd immunity has never been confirmed as official policy, Professor Goldsmith was adamant Sweden was hoping enough of its population would develop antibodies that infection rates would start to drop after six to 12 months. "Honestly, there was never a chance of that being a sensible approach," he said. "Nobody has ever tried to control a pandemic or an epidemic by inducing herd immunity.

Professor Goldsmith said Sweden had three pillars to their coronavirus response from the outset: Herd immunity, avoiding economic damage and making measures sustainable. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven's press conference overran on Thursday, clashing with that of Anders Tegnell, the architect of the country's liberal approach to the outbreak. Dr Tegnell had previously claimed that Sweden would fare better than other countries in the second wave after building up a higher level of immunity.  Tougher restrictions in place since mid-October, however, may have helped slow the spread of the disease with the Public Health Agency saying infections could peak in the coming weeks.

Lockdown is finally looming in Sweden  .. .. and to the fortune of the Nation,  our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji thought of severe lockdown in mid Mar 2020 itself !   Sweden PM Stefan Lofven announced the closures and now is speaking of  a 'new norm' for Swedish society in which people were told: 'Don't go to gyms, don't go to libraries, don't host dinners. Cancel.' Swedish officials have long argued that their strategy is designed for the long term because softer measures will be accepted for longer by the public. But Lofven said in November that 'this autumn, too many of us have neglected to follow the advice and recommendations'.  The limit on public gatherings was slashed from 300 to eight as infections rose sharply in November.  Sweden now hopes to begin vaccinations in late December or early 2021, having signed up for five of the six jabs in the EU's common procurement scheme. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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