Antibodies against coronavirus have appeared in a smaller part of the population than hoped in Stockholm, and there is no guarantee that this gives protection against re-infection.
Sweden made a splash in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic by refusing to quarantine like other countries. But the country has not achieved herd immunity, new research suggests.
Instead of a brutal quarantine Stockholm just gave its citizens advice how to behave to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Shops, restaurants and gyms have remained open. But education in schools and universities has been stopped for those over 16. Writes about it Newsweek … Large gatherings of more than 50 people were banned in Sweden. And people over 70 and those with symptoms of COVID-19 were ordered to self-isolate.
To combat the disease, Sweden has used a concept called folkvett, or collective common sense of people. This was written by Professor David Goldsmith and scientist in the Department of Anthropology at University College London, David Orlovsky, in a commentary for the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. The commentary had the headline: “After four months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sweden’s vaunted herd immunity is no longer on the horizon.”
The government hoped that the controlled spread of the coronavirus would lead to herd immunity. This usually means that a large enough section of society has received protection from the pathogen. Thus, its distribution stops. Such changes can be achieved through vaccination or natural contamination.
Evidence suggests that after COVID-19 people do develop antibodies against the coronavirus. But it is not known if this protects them from reinfection. Sweden hoped that about 40% of Stockholm’s population would be carriers of antibodies by May. But in fact, they were found only in about 15%. Goldsmith explained to Newsweek that he worked with Orlovsky to derive this figure based on available data as of the end of June 2020. In particular, they used the results of antibodies research from various scientific centers, as well as government agencies such as the Swedish Ministry of Health.
Compared to Denmark, Finland and Norway, the number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths in Sweden per million population was “several times” higher. In addition, Swedish infection rates and mortality rates persisted even after a critical period in neighboring Norway, Finland and Denmark ended.
“Only if we fully understand the essence of the pandemic and the impact of the measures that were taken during it, and this will happen in a year or two at least, then we will be able to fairly judge what was right and what was not,” experts say.
Cell biology professor Simon Clarke from the University of Reading in the UK noted that the herd immunity idea was attractive to many. Because it did not provide for the introduction of quarantine and restrictions on human freedoms.
“But it was just an idea, not supported by data,” the scientist said.
What is known about the coronavirus pandemic in Europe?
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