'World's gone crazy': Health chief defends his country's radical virus strategy

Sweden's chief epidemiologist, who is behind the approach of keeping large parts of the country open during the coronavirus pandemic, says he was surprised to see other European Union countries close their borders.

Anders Tegnell, chief epidemiologist for Sweden's Public Health Agency, described his country's strategy in a program on Swedish public radio channel Sveriges Radio P1 as a "classic pandemic model" that he had been discussing with international colleagues for 20 years.

Mr Tegnell said "it was as if the world went crazy and everything we discussed seemed completely forgotten".

Sweden's chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell (left) described his country's controversial coronavirus strategy as a "classic pandemic model". Source: AAP

Sweden, a country of 10 million people, has so far recorded 62,324 coronavirus cases and 5209 deaths.

The epidemiologist said the coronavirus is unpredictable and stressed it was difficult to know which methods have had the best effect.

The Scandinavian nation encouraged social distancing but managed to avoid shutting down businesses or imposing a strict stay at home message by taking the herd immunity approach.

A recent survey in Dagens Nyheter, one of Sweden's largest newspapers, showed that support for Sweden's Public Health Agency had dropped to 57 per cent in June from 69 per cent in April.

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