Sweden’s herd immunity strategy coldblooded, indifferent: netizens

By Leng Shumei Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/25 22:48:40

Ambassador Gui Congyou (center) answers questions from Swedish media. Photo: Screenshot from the Chinese Embassy in Sweden

Boasting of its democracy and as a defender of human rights, Sweden is being harshly criticized by Chinese netizens as coldblooded, indifferent to life, and gravely violated humanitarian principles with its herd immunity strategy in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

While facing a worsening public health crisis, Sweden tried to humiliate China with lame tricks by severing ties with Chinese cities, which are an illusion, experts and Chinese netizens said, after several Swedish cities reportedly ended sister-city relations with their Chinese counterparts and closed a local Confucius Classroom in recent months. 

When confirmed global COVID-19 cases reached nearly 3 million, Sweden was the only country to insist on a herd immunity strategy in Europe, which basically means that it allows the deadly virus to decide the fate of millions of people in the hope those infected would acquire immunity.

Data released by Johns Hopkins University show Sweden reported 17,567 COVID-19 cases as of Saturday morning, with 2,152 deaths, or a mortality rate of 12 percent, which is nearly double that of Central China's Hubei Province, the worst-hit place in China by the epidemic. 

The country has reportedly implemented the least measures in Northern Europe, social distancing or lockdown to combat the pandemic. It remains uncertain where the strategy will lead the country, Cui Hongjian, director of EU Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times Saturday.

Anders Tegnell, the state epidemiologist at Sweden's Public Health Agency, admitted the death toll is high in an interview with the BBC. He said that's because "as many as half of the deaths occurred in nursing homes, which have banned visitors" so it was "hard to know how a lockdown would have stopped that." 

With a population of 10 million, it largely only tests those with severe symptoms. And bars, restaurants and gyms continue to operate, while residents still gather without wearing masks in public, local media reported. 

However, Chinese analysts and netizens doubt herd immunity and called it a violation of human rights, citing high mortality in the country compared to other Northern European countries.  

"So-called human rights, democracy, freedom are heading in the wrong direction in Sweden, and countries that are extremely irresponsible do not deserve to be China's friend, and the Chinese people should not travel to Sweden," according to a comment posted on Weibo that received hundreds of likes.

The number of deaths and infected cases will continue to rise in Sweden if the country sticks to a herd immunity strategy, which will overwhelm Sweden's medical system and cause greater economic loss than countries adopting strict management, some Chinese analysts said, noting that, at that time, the Swedish people's trust in the government would also be affected. 

Sweden's second-largest city, Gothenburg, decided not to renew its 34-year sister-city relations with Shanghai, China, when the contract was due at the end of 2019, media reported Friday. 

The country also closed its last Confucius Classroom last week, making it the first country in Europe to close all Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms, media reported.

But such grandstanding does not mean a thing to the Chinese people, experts noted.

Sweden used to be active in cooperation with China as they intended to "affect and change" China in ideology through economic and trade exchanges. But in recent years, they realized this would not happen and were disappointed, Cui said. 

Thus, criticism of China out of political considerations gradually became the mainstream in Swedish media on issues involving China, experts said.  

Despite the country's own controversial anti-epidemic measures, some Swedish politicians published an article in the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet (SVD), which uses the pandemic to smear China.  

On April 16, Chinese Ambassador to Sweden, Gui Congyou, published an article on SVD condemning these politicians. 

Gui said as the world unites against the pandemic, these politicians are politicizing and stigmatizing, and slandering China's efforts to fight the pandemic, which fully exposes their bias, and undermines the global cooperation against the pandemic.

Posted in: DIPLOMACY

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