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Sweden is seeing a high coronavirus death toll. Is it due to the flu?

Sweden’s chief epidemiologist said high COVID-19 death toll is because of mild flu outbreaks.

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People gather outside the district court in Stockholm, Thursday Aug. 1, 2019. American rapper A$AP Rocky pleaded not guilty to assault as his trial in Sweden opened Tuesday, a month after a street fight that landed him in jail and became a topic of U.S.-S

People gather outside the district court in Stockholm, Thursday Aug. 1, 2019. American rapper A$AP Rocky pleaded not guilty to assault as his trial in Sweden opened Tuesday, a month after a street fight that landed him in jail and became a topic of U.S.-Swedish diplomacy.

Fredrik Persson

Sweden’s chief epidemiologist recently said the country’s high death toll is connected to a mild flu outbreak, CNBC reports.

  • “When many people die of the flu in the winter, fewer die in heat waves the following summer. In this case, it was COVID-19 that caused many to die,” Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist, told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, according to CNBC.
  • “What has now been seen is that the countries that have had a fairly low mortality for influenza in the last two, three years, such as Sweden, (also) have a very high excess mortality in COVID-19,” he said, according to The Times newspaper.

Tegnell said countries like Norway — which have a high flu mortality rate — had a low COVID-19 mortality rate.

  • “The same trend has been seen in several countries. This may not be the whole explanation but part of it.”

Public health officials in Sweden have considered adding tighter restrictions after seeing the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases, Bloomberg reports.

  • Sweden has faced criticism for a strategy that emphasizes “personal responsibility rather than major lockdowns to slow the virus as deaths shot up during the spring,” Reuters reports.
  • Sweden did see a drop in cases over the summer despite the strategy.