COVID Meets Volvo: The Swedish Public Health Approach to Coronavirus

Binoy Kampmark


Sweden has been considered both pioneer and pariah in regard to its approach to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and its pandemic disease, COVID-19. While much of Europe went into economic hibernation and rigid lockdown in the first wave of novel coronavirus infections in the spring of 2020, Sweden kept its borders, bars, restaurants, schools, gyms etc. open. Organised children’s sporting arrangements were also encouraged, on the basis that socialising and physical activity outweighed the risks posed by COVID-19 to children. Public transportation could still be freely used. Masks were not worn. This paper examines the often controversial tenets of the Swedish public health response to COVID-19, and how widely it has appealed to public health experts and officials in Europe and beyond. Debates within the country are also discussed. What it shows is that, despite rising levels of infection in a second wave in Europe and concessions that it might have even failed, the Swedish model is being adopted by stealth and admired from afar.


COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, pandemic, Sweden, public health

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