A top World Health Organization official praised Sweden’s response to the coronavirus pandemic Monday, saying its approach has been mischaracterized.
Sweden’s government has been widely criticized for seeking herd immunity by allowing the virus to burn through the population. But Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program, said it was not true that Sweden has not implemented control measures.
“It tried to rely on individuals and communities to comply with the advice of government and it has tried to avoid imposing mandatory lockdowns, mandatory separation of individuals,” Ryan said.
This is based on historically very high levels of trust between the Swedish government and its people, Ryan said.
“That is the way in which Swedish people, the Swedish government interact,” he said. “That is the social contract in Sweden.”
He said that it is wrong to suggest that Sweden had an altogether different approach to Covid-19 than the rest of Europe and that it had an “approach of light touch regulation of the process.”
Ryan singled out Anders Tegnell, an epidemiologist at Sweden’s Public Health Agency, which advises the country’s government on health matters.
“I think even in Sweden, Anders Tegnell and the team there have done a good job,” Ryan said.
“Each government has to find its way, with its population to control the disease and there are lessons to learn from every country and its approach,” he added. “No country has done perfectly. All countries have made mistakes, but all countries have done some things correctly," he added.