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Sweden now has world's highest death rate after it decided to ignore lockdown advice



Stock picture: AFP via Getty Images

Stock picture: AFP via Getty Images

Stock picture: AFP via Getty Images

Sweden has taken the ignominious title of the country with the world's highest death rate from Covid-19.

The title, which was briefly held by the UK late last month, comes after Swedish officials decided to ignore the lockdown advice of countless health experts and kept the country largely open during the pandemic.

The number of deaths per capita in Sweden is now more than four times that of its Nordic neighbours.

And while its death toll of around 4,500 is a fraction of other badly affected countries, such as the US (105,000) and the UK (38,000), it is the death rate that reveals the true impact of Sweden's no-lockdown approach.

The rolling seven-day average for new confirmed deaths per million people in Sweden is now nearly twice that of the US and more than five-times that of France, which had the highest death rate in the world in April.

France imposed a strict lockdown, similar to those of Italy and Spain, in an attempt to contain severe outbreaks of the deadly virus.

These lockdowns have proven to be an extremely effective strategy in the fight against coronavirus, with death rates dropping drastically in all of the countries that imposed them.

Countries that pre-empted large-scale outbreaks with early lockdowns, such as New Zealand, appear to have almost entirely eliminated the virus.

Yet while social distancing, PPE advice and other containment measures have helped slow the spread in Sweden, a lack of lockdown means the country's infection rate shows no sign of falling.

When Sweden is compared to other Nordic countries, the scale of the country's coronavirus crisis seems even more pronounced.

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Sweden's hope has been to achieve herd immunity, whereby enough of the population has been infected that coronavirus can no longer spread widely. Yet studies in May suggest that Sweden is nowhere near the threshold needed to realise this.

Experts claim that at least 60pc of the population would need to have Covid-19 antibodies before herd immunity is reached.

The government had hoped for 20pc immunity by the end of May, but instead only 7.3pc have it.

This is lower than most countries that enforced lockdowns, including the UK and US, yet with still no lockdown in place, the full impact for Sweden may be a long way from being realised.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland

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