Sweden now has the lowest Covid infection rate in Western Europe. The Scandinavian country, which came under international criticism last year for refusing to lockdown, currently has 85.4 cases per million inhabitants, according to Oxford University’s research website Our World in Data. In comparison, the rate in Austria – Europe’s current Covid hotspot – is almost 1,400 per million people.
Sweden’s infection rate is also well below that of other Western European countries such as the Netherlands (1048.7), Great Britain (581), Germany (536) and France (201). And for the first time in the pandemic, Sweden also has fewer cases per capita than its Scandinavian neighbors Denmark (655), Norway (351) and Finland (150).
This is also remarkable in that Sweden by no means has the highest vaccination rate in Europe. They currently have Portugal, Malta, and Spain – countries also with particularly low incidences, but not quite as low as those in Sweden.
But there is a problem: those who have been vaccinated twice no longer routinely take tests in Sweden. According to critics, Sweden is therefore groping in the dark about the true extent of the current Covid wave. What’s more, Sweden broke with its European neighbors again last week, telling Swedes that they would no longer need to be tested if they were fully vaccinated, even if they had symptoms. The number of tests fell last week by 35 percent compared to the previous month – quite the opposite of Austria, which is currently the test world champion.
In Sweden, however, only 1.26 tests are carried out per 1,000 people – the lowest number in Western Europe.
However, according to the official figures, Austria is also among the top for hospitalizations (the figures from Germany are not in the database).
This week, however, Sweden reversed its policy in response to rising cases on the continent. A new wave of delta falls is rolling across the continent and putting the hospitals under pressure again. More and more EU member states are being forced to reintroduce one form or another of restrictions.
It remains to be seen how the numbers will develop in other European countries and whether the occupancy rate in the hospitals will continue to grow similarly to that in Austria.