‘We have failed’: Leader’s tragic take on country’s controversial Covid strategy

Yahoo News Australia and agencies
·3-min read

Sweden’s king has made a stunning admission regarding the country’s controversial approach to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking on Swedish broadcaster, SVT, King Carl XVI Gustaf said Sweden had “failed” to save lives during the pandemic with Prime Minister Stefan Lofven agreeing with him, according to the BBC.

His comments regarding the country’s handling of the pandemic were made during the royal family’s annual TV review.

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden gives a speech at the opening of the exhibition 'In Course of Time, 400 Years Of Royal Clocks'.
King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden said the country had 'failed' in managing the Covid pandemic. Source: Getty Images

“I think we have failed. We have a large number who have died and that is terrible,” the king said.

"The people of Sweden have suffered tremendously in difficult conditions.

“One thinks of all the family members who have happened to be unable to say goodbye to their deceased family members.

“I think it is a tough and traumatic experience not to be able to say a warm goodbye."

According to Johns Hopkins data, there have been over 350,000 confirmed cases of Covid in Sweden and more than 7800 confirmed deaths.

Sweden had sought to achieve herd immunity

The Scandinavian country has stood out among European and other nations for the way it has handled the pandemic, for long not mandating lockdowns but relying instead on citizens’ sense of civic duty.

While it was never official adopted as a strategy to manage Covid, there was speculation Sweden was hoping to achieve herd immunity.

"They set out with the plan that they would either let it rip, completely, they would try to modulate it a little bit or they would try to suppress it,” Professor David Goldsmith told the ABC last month.

"They came up with the suppression plan.

"Essentially, they were waiting and waiting and waiting for this mythical herd immunity to come to the point where the infections would simply die off.”

People board a local bus in central Uppsala,Sweden, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. Uppsala, a university city north of Stockholm, on Tuesday became the first place in Sweden to introduce local restrictions as inhabitants were urged to avoid physical contact and parties and stay away from public transport
Sweden did not enforce a strict Covid lockdown and now there are over 350,000 cases. Source: AP

Commission finds Sweden didn’t protect the elderly

A government-appointed commission has concluded Sweden has failed to protect elderly people in care homes and other long-term care facilities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Factors that contributed to the failure were the widespread transmission of the virus, as well as "structural shortcomings that have been well-known for a long time".

"These shortcomings have led to residential care being unprepared and ill-equipped to handle a pandemic," the report said.

Shortcomings included lack of proper protective equipment for personnel, delays in testing and introducing bans on visits.

A weakness highlighted in the report was "fragmentation" in the Swedish health and care systems.

Care for the elderly is divided between 21 regions and 290 municipalities, manly run by private providers and is supervised by central government agencies.

Improving staffing levels, training and working conditions for healthcare workers was needed, along with an improved regulatory framework, the report said.

The commission summed up that the "ultimate responsibility for these shortcomings rests with the government in power - and with the previous governments".

According to the commission, almost 90 per cent of the fatalities were - as of early December - aged 70 or more and half of them were in long-term residential care.

The eight-strong commission is chaired by Mats Melin, a former top judge.

Other members include political scientists, crisis management and public health experts.

Tuesday's report was the first since the commission was appointed in June.

The main report is due in February 2022, ahead of a general election scheduled in September of that year.

A general view of the Berga nursing home, amid the coronavirus outbreak, in Stockholm, Sweden November 27, 2020.
A report has criticised authorities for delaying introducing bans on Swedish care home visits. Source: Reuters

With DPA and Associated Press

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