Swedish disease expert under fire for email revealing herd immunity rationale

Sweden’s top infectious disease expert appeared to deliberately chase herd immunity from coronavirus — saying the death risk to the elderly could be “worth it,” according to newly released emails.

Anders Tegnell — Sweden’s equivalent to Dr. Anthony Fauci — was already under fire for seemingly disastrous responses to the contagion that eschewed almost any lockdowns.

Now emails obtained by Swedish journalists under freedom of information laws have further fanned the flames — seemingly contradicting his earlier denials that he deliberately sought a faster spread to get herd immunity despite knowing the risks, according to The Guardian.

“One point would be to keep schools open to reach herd immunity faster,” he wrote during one March brainstorming exchange with his Finnish counterpart, Mika Salminen, days after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

He was warned that “the children are still going to spread the infection to other age groups” and that closing schools could reduce the spread to vulnerable age groups by at least 10 percent, The Guardian said.

“Ten percent might be worth it?” he replied, according to the reports.

The released emails sparked outrage in the Scandinavian country, Yahoo! News noted — with other reports also suggesting he had deleted hundreds of emails that were being sought.

Despite the emails, Tegnell insists that chasing herd immunity was not the real reason for keeping schools open.

People sit at a lakeside beach in Stockholm.
People sit at a lakeside beach in Stockholm.Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images

“My comment was on a possible effect, not on an expected one, that was part of the assessment of the appropriateness of the measure,” he told Emanuel Karlsten, the journalist who obtained the emails. “Keeping schools open to gain immunity was therefore never relevant.”


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