The management of the epidemic of COVID-19 a lot of talk a few months ago, because the country had decided not to put in place containment measures, and focus on a strategy of so-called “herd immunity”. Sweden had not closed its schools, its restaurants or bars and, even more salient in the current context, has not issued a recommendation or requirement to use protective masks. This approach has led to impressive polemical and critical, pushing even Norway, the main trade partner of Sweden, to close its borders with its neighbour. However, after the beginning of the outbreak among the deadliest in the world (worse than the United States, during the first wave), the epidemic now appears to be perfectly under control in Sweden, while the cases are increasing again in the rest of european countries.
How an approach so different was that possible?
According to Stéphane Gayet, md, physician of the hospital at the CHU (university Hospital) of Strasbourg, the relationship of trust between the population and the government has been crucial. Limiting itself to recommendations and incentives to limit travel and to comply with the preventive measures, Sweden stood in the face of the epidemic CoVid-19, without having to put in place drastic measures and binding. More recently, Sweden surprises even more, not wishing to impose the wearing of masks compulsory, even in closed places, a measure that is necessary yet as indispensable in the world.
No mask for the Swedish
In Sweden, the debate on the wearing of the mask dividing legislators and scientists. Most studies validate the hypothesis that covering the mouth and nose is effective to protect against contamination, and especially to avoid the spread of the virus. But with a trend very strong in the lower case of COVID-19, the Swedish government does not wish to adopt new restrictive measures to the population, especially regarding masks. The epidemiologist-in-chief Swedish, Anders Tegnell has reviewed all of the studies on the wearing of the mask, and he is not convinced. To him, their use is too complex, and their effectiveness depends on too much when they should be used, who must use, how to ensure that they are properly used, and this makes the wearing of the mask required not to be very effective. According to him, the perfect example of the ambivalence of the obligation of wearing a mask is the case of restaurants: he would need to wear a mask, but you can’t eat with a mask, it is thus necessary to regularly remove the handle, to be able to drink and eat… Very far using recommended. He also cites the case of Spain as an argument against the wearing of the mask: there, the requirement is very strict, even outdoors, but this does not prevent the number of cases to increase.
According to the epidemiologist, before imposing the wearing of masks, it is much more effective and a priority to properly enforce the social distancing. Less parties, more telework and bike to avoid public transport. In summary: no need to mask, if you meet better the distance between people.
Schools also remain open
In the spring, Sweden has chosen not to close day care centres and schools and, according to Tegnell, this did not impact on infection rates. The public health Agency in sweden compiled the data on its decision regarding the school system, and shared its results. Sweden has reported 1 124 cases of children in age to go to school, having contracted the COVID-19 during a period from march until mid-June, the end of the school year. This number is equivalent to 2.1% of all cases of COVID in the country during this period. Among these, 14 had to be hospitalized in an intensive care unit. To justify its position, Sweden is compared to Finland that it has closed the schools. The number of cases of Finnish children contaminated was four times more important than in Sweden, with by against only one hospitalization, compared with 14 in Sweden. The science is divided on the level of contamination of children . According to a scientific study published recently, the very young, under the age of 5 years, would be in fact especially contagious.
France can be inspired by the Swedish model based on trust?
The “Swedish model” became the symbol of an approach, leaving the population alone to manage a public health crisis. According to Tegnell, Sweden has not managed to achieve this through a strict set of rules, but “conqueror of the people”. The population has a confidence level very high, hard to replicate elsewhere.
In France, the population is not only far from the confidence in the Swedish authorities, it is also not prone to resilience, and social participation (in contrast to Italian, for example). According to Stéphane Gayet, the lack of this type of trust, and behavior, is at the origin of the indiscipline of the French. The heterogeneity of France and his disenchantment vis-à-vis the political class is in addition to the errors in the management of the epidemic CoVid-19. And in the face of this, the only alternatives considered were the containment, closure of schools, and now the port of the mask.