Sweden’s elevated COVID-19 death toll connected to its large migrant population, state epidemiologist says

Nearly a quarter of Sweden’s population has an immigrant background

Swedish State Epidemiologist Dr. Anders Tegnel, the architect of Sweden’s unorthodox coronavirus strategy, has defended his no-lockdown approach to the pandemic, attributing the country’s death toll — which is considerably elevated compared to its Nordic neighbors — to its large migrant population.

During an interview with The Financial Times, Tegnel discussed what he sees as the main factors which have contributed to Sweden’s COVID-19 death toll of more than 15,000, which at this point in the pandemic is higher than the combined death tolls of Norway, Finland, and Denmark.

Although critics may be quick to conclude that Sweden’s elevated death toll is due to its absence of strict lockdown measures, Tegnel says it is more complicated than that, arguing that Sweden’s population of migrants and people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, which is much higher than any of its Scandinavian neighbors, has also contributed to the country’s high death toll. 


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