Swedish flu theory rejected

State epidemiologists disagree on reasons for lower death rates

flu theory proposed by Anders Tegnell

Photo: Ali Lorestani / TT Nyhetsbyrån / NTB
Anders Tegnell, Swedish state epidemiologist.


In an interview published in Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper, the country’s state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, proposed a new theory to explain his country’s high death toll, pointing to the mild flu seasons the country had seen in recent years. 

“The new report shows that there is a strong connection between a low excess mortality rate from the flu and high excess mortality from COVID-19, and vice versa,” Tegnell said. 

“What people are now seeing is that countries that had a low death rate from flu over the past two to three years have a very high excess mortality from COVID-19, while those that have had a high flu death rate, like Norway, over the past two winters, have a low coronavirus death rate.” 

Tegnell’s Norwegian counterpart, Frode Forland, questioned the claim that Norway had in fact suffered more severe flu seasons in recent years. 

“There was a rather mild season last year in both Norway and in Sweden,” he said. “When we look at the death toll in Norway and compare it to that of Sweden, it doesn’t look like there is that much difference.”

In Forland’s opinion, the difference in the death rates stem primarily from the timing of Norway’s lockdown, which stopped the spread of the virus at an early stage. 

This article was originally published on The Local.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 9, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.