Sweden now has 7.3% of residents in Stockholm who have developed antibodies to fight the novel coronavirus that has infected 31,172 and killed 3,871of its population.
The country took the extraordinary step of keeping its life normal while the rest of its Nordic neighbors and countries in the world have opted to imposed lockdown and strict quarantine measures.
Sweden allowed schools, shops, restaurants, and other public places to operate in the middle of pandemic and rely heavily on its citizens to follow and observe necessary health measures to avoid contracting the virus. Indeed, a large majority of its citizens complied.
In Stockholm, for instance, activities in shops and cafes decreased by 20% to 40%. Also, the number of commuters decreased by 30% to 40%.
Sweden's Public Health Authority admitted the current percentage is well below the ideal 70-90% percentage needed to achieve herd immunity. Still, the country's chief epidimiologist Anders Tegnell maintained that the figure is very well with the models that Swedish officials have.
Tegnell said that the reported 7.3% was the situation some weeks ago. He estimated that at present, there could be about 20% of Stockholm's residents who might have the antibodies. He clarified, however, that herd immunity is not Sweden's end goal. The country aims to slow the spread of the virus unlike with other countries that are now battling the second wave since a smaller percentage of its population developed the antibodies.
Sweden's strategy is heavily criticized in parts of the world, including even by many of its own officials.
Michael Mina, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, that vaccine is the quickest way to achieve herd immunity.
Bjorn Olsen, a professor of infectious medicine at Uppsala University, believed herd immunity was a dangerous and unrealistic approach. Or, if ever one country achieved it, Sweden is a long way off.
Indeed, Sweden is registering the most coronavirus deaths in Europe per capita over the past week. The country averaged 6.25 deaths per day per million people over the past week.
To compare, the United Kingdom averaged 5.75 deaths daily per million people over the same seven-day period. Belgium was at 4.6, France 3.49, and Italy 3.
Initially, Sweden did not close businesses to lessen the impact of the virus on the economy. However, recent data from Bloomberg suggested the country is now headed for its worst recession at the same level it underwent during World War II.
Sweden's Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson said the country's economy will shrink 7% this year. Of the biggest factor is the spike in debts with an estimated 40% of businesses nearing bankruptcy.
"The deep downturn in the economy is happening faster than we expected," Andersson said.
And, while Sweden fares somewhat better than other countries, the difference is not significant, according to Marten Bjellerup, chief economist at the debt office in Stockholm.