Is Sweden Doing the Right Strategy with COVID19

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 04/13/2024

Amidst all the news reports of lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, and social distancing, let’s take a look at what Sweden is doing in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In this article, I’ll cover:

I know you’re as interested as I am in this topic. Let’s dive in.

a microscopic illustration of the coronavirus that causes COVID 19


Sweden’s COVID 19 Strategy

If you’re not familiar with what Sweden is doing, I’ll fill you in.

There is no lockdown. No quarantines. The health care system isn’t at full capacity.

Schools and restaurants are open.

But they are practicing social distancing, and have banned groups of more than 50.

This is radically different from the rest of the world. I know that if you read the news, you’ve seen this is a very controversial topic.

Sweden has the lowest number ofICU beds of all the Nordic countries, yet still the country chose its different, less restrictive, coronavirus strategy. In the reported statistics in late April, 2020, the number of deaths per day from COVID 19 was declining. Thus, their strategy does appear to be somewhat successful


How Herd Immunity Works

This discussion would be incomplete without me addressing the concept of herd immunity. Herd immunity is when enough people are exposed to a virus to build immunity against it. Estimates are that this needs to be about sixty percent of the population.

the words herd immunity on a background of jigsaw puzzle pieces

Here’s how it works.

Your B-cells , which are part of what’s called your acquired immune system, make antibodies. You can envision antibodies as little handcuffs that attach to a pathogen. The cuffs are very specific to a particular pathogen. In other words, COVID 19 antibodies are specific only to COVID 19 and not, for instance, to flu.

When your body makes antibodies to COVID 19, the antibodies will sit there and wait until the next time you’re infected with COVID 19. Then they’ll neutralize the virus.

Thus, the theory is that if a population has herd immunity to a virus, there won’t be a massive spread of the virus. People become infected, make the antibodies, and become immune. This has the potential to avoid a second wave of infection.

Because here’s the thing that’s happening with the rest of the world.


Why Lockdowns May Not Work

You have a lockdown, right? Few people are exposed to the virus. At some point, the lockdown has to be lifted. You’ll go out to the stores, or to a restaurant, where you’ll be exposed to people who have COVID 19. This creates a second wave of infection, which some health officials say will be worse than the first wave.

What do we do then? Do we lock down again? If so, this could create a third wave. And a fourth wave. And so on. When does it end?

I can hear some of you already:

“We don’t know if people become immune to the coronavirus. They could get reinfected.”

Yes, this is possible. But it’s unlikely. Based on the data that’s out there, herd immunity could occur.

Unfortunately, what could also happen is this: the current testing isn’t sophisticated enough to give you what’s called a zero value. At its core, the test measures viral load. The test will give a negative result only if the viral load is less than 3,000.

Here’s what this means for you:

Let’s say you’ve been hospitalized with COVID 19. At the end of your hospitalization, you still have a viral load of 2,500 yet you’ll test negative.

So you leave the hospital with a negative result, but you still have active viruses in your body. If your immune system is weak, the infection could grow and you could relapse. That’s more likely what’s happening, as opposed to becoming reinfected.

a man sick with COVID 19 wears a mask as he peers out a window

By the way, if you disagree with Sweden’s strategy, please tell me what we should be doing instead. Give us a solution. I welcome your comments below.

Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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