Coronavirus

Corona in Sweden: sharpest decline in life expectancy since 1944

People are strolling down the Drottninggatan shopping street in central Stockholm on November 10, 2020.

People are strolling down the Drottninggatan shopping street in central Stockholm on November 10, 2020.

Fredrik Sandberg / TT News Agency / AFP via Getty Images

Life expectancy in Sweden is likely to decrease due to the corona pandemic in 2020, the Swedish statistics agency said on Wednesday.

The decline predicted by the agency would mark the largest year-on-year decline since 1944, said Örjan Hemström, demographer at Statistics Sweden.

The life expectancy of women will therefore decrease from 84.7 to 84.4 years. For men, a decline from 81.3 to 80.8 years is expected – which roughly compensates for the sharp increase in life expectancy in 2019.

“We see no evidence of immunity in the population”

Sweden has taken a more relaxed approach to the pandemic and decided not to enforce a national lockdown. Instead, the focus was more on the individual responsibility of the citizens.

But the country is now in the middle of a second wave with the steep rise in Covid 19 cases and has now turned around: It was wrong to expect that its own policy would prevent a further increase. On Tuesday, the country’s leading epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, said, “We are not seeing any evidence of immunity in the population that is slowing the infection right now,” said Bloomberg.

The Swedish Statistics Agency said that life expectancy “rose steadily” between 1900 and 2019. “The fact that it is now falling is striking.” His calculations were based on the death rate in the Scandinavian country between January and August. During that period, the country recorded nearly 6,500 more deaths than at the same time in 2019, an increase of around ten percent.

Life expectancy could fall even more than predicted, warned the Swedish Statistics Office. That’s because the death rate between September and December was predicted based on the number of deaths in the corresponding months of 2019.

Sweden is moving away from the special route

This year, due to Covid-19, the death rate is expected to be significantly higher in these months.

Life expectancy will decrease to varying degrees in the different districts, said the agency – and in some areas it can even be expected that people will live longer. The steepest decrease in life expectancy of 1.2 years is expected for the Stockholm district, where the country’s capital of the same name is located, according to the data from Statistics Sweden.

On November 16, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven announced stricter coronavirus measures, including limiting public gatherings to eight people.

However, he reiterated that the Swedish government “does not believe in total lockdown as the means of choice”. Sweden has twice as many inhabitants as neighboring Norway, but according to the World Health Organization (WHO) it has about 20 times more deaths related to Covid-19.

According to the WHO, the United Kingdom has the highest number of related deaths in Europe as of November 25, with just over 55,000 deaths.

This article first appeared here and has been translated from English.

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