Wednesday 12/8/21

Study calls Sweden 'net exporter' of coronavirus due to lax approach

Finland is said to have been particularly affected
Customers of a cafe in a park in Lund (southern Sweden). Photo: Núria Vila/File photo.
People gathered in a park in a Cafe in Lund (southern Sweden) in April 2020, at the early stages of the pandemic. Photo: Núria Vila.

Sweden's light-touch coronavirus strategy helped spread the infection to other countries, according to a newly released study.

The study, which was published in the Eurosurveillance journal, was conducted by researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the University of Sydney in Australia.

"Sweden was a net exporter of the Sars Cov-2 virus to our Nordic neighbours in the first year of the pandemic," John Pettersson of Uppsala University told the Swedish TV station SVT on Tuesday.

Sweden was found to have taken little action to stop the spread of the virus in the early stages of the pandemic, unlike other Scandinavian countries.

As a result, the number of infections was high, which ultimately encouraged the mutation of the virus, according to the researchers.

The study was based on the analysis of 71,000 patient samples, allowing analysts to establish a kind of genetic pedigree for the spread of the virus in the Nordic region.

Impact across the Nordic region

Chains of infection are said to have originated in Sweden before crossing national borders in several hundred cases.

"Our results indicate that Sweden’s mitigation strategy had an impact on the epidemiological situation internally and across the Nordic region as a whole," the study says.

However, the study also points out that Sweden - like Denmark - is a transit country.

Despite strict travel restrictions, Finland is said to have been particularly affected. Finns who were not subject to the entry ban brought the virus back with them from Sweden upon their return, the scientists wrote.