After the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic, a number of researchers and experts reacted to what was happening in Sweden calling for change in strategy to save lives. This group of researchers and some who have joined later, make up the board of the Science Forum Covid-19. While other countries took the obvious approach of deciding on a lockdown to reduce the spread of infection and buy time to build up the production of protective equipment and increase testing, Sweden chose a line where the population was asked to take most of the responsibility for reducing the spread of infection. It was soon apparent that this was not a sustainable alternative, as the death toll in Sweden rose markedly and in a way that did not take place in the other Nordic countries.
Concern over the strategy in Sweden brought us together
We got involved in many different actions. Among other things, several of us wrote debate articles to try to initiate a discussion about what was happening and to offer alternative strategies to the pandemic. We were all worried about how the situation was handled by the Swedish authorities, both by the Public Health Agency and at the government level. In mid-April, we gathered and wrote a debate article in which we challenged the perception that the infection control work was satisfactory.
The article was published on April 14th in the debate page of the newspaper Dagens Nyheters (DN) with the headline ’The Public Health Agency has failed – now the politicians must intervene”
We received a powerful and immediate response and the article became one of DN's most read debate articles of all time.
In connection with the publication of the article, we received a lot of criticism, mainly for two reasons. One was that we wrote:
“How can one win the battle, if the elected representatives hide behind officials, who completely hold the baton? Officials, who so far have not shown any talent for either predicting or limiting the development we now live with."
This was wrongly interpreted as meaning that civil servants generally lack talent, when the intent was to state the wrong decisions had been made to date. The second was that we were criticized about how we had done our calculations when we compared mortality in Sweden and Italy. This has later been verified that our calculation of 105 deaths per day was closer than those from the Public Health Agency.
The opposition to us was initially very strong but already after a few days we got more and more support.
A broad collective knowledge
Our group currently consists of approximately 40 people that have expertise in, among others, biology, molecular biology, epidemiology, infectious diseases, lung diseases, mathematics, data analysis, political science, psychology, ethics and risk research. Some of us are medical doctors while others have other academic backgrounds. Together, we cover the range of expertise needed to debate and inform from a professional and scientific perspective.
We work extensively to inform and advise the public about the ongoing pandemic and related topics and areas. Our YouTube channel gathers in-depth debates with qualified professors, researchers and other experts where we discuss everything that has to do with Covid-19 and its effects on us and the society. These discussions are also available on our Facebook page, where we also have contact with anyone who wants to talk to us and ask questions. The group can also be followed on Twitter.
Our common position on Covid19, which differs from that of the Swedish Public Health Agency and the government, is largely based on the fact that mortality in Sweden has by far exceeded the mortality observed in the other Nordic countries. Sweden is actually today among the highest countries in the world when it comes to deaths per capita from COVID-19.
In the long run, we hope to be able to dismantle the group because it would mean that our suggestions have been pursued in such a way that they have become general policy in Sweden.
The main points in our proposed strategy are:
- broad testing and infection tracing
- quarantine for anyone suspected of being infected and all household contacts
- face masks in elderly care and in indoor or crowded areas
The aim of the measures are:
To reduce mortality in Covid-19
To reduce long term illness for those who survive Covid-19
To minimize the fear of being infected by Covid-19 in Sweden
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