The first eight months of Sweden's COVID-19 strategy and the key actions and actors that were involved

Acta Paediatr. 2020 Dec;109(12):2459-2471. doi: 10.1111/apa.15582. Epub 2020 Oct 11.


Aim: COVID-19 has affected millions of people worldwide. This paper reviews the Swedish pandemic response.

Methods: A narrative review was carried out and a timeline constructed.

Results: By September 1, 2020, 0.8% of Swedish residents had tested positive for the virus and 0.06% of the population had died, which was higher than neighbouring Nordic countries, but lower than some European countries with general lockdowns. The main actors were the Public Health Agency, the National Board of Health and Welfare, the Civil Contingencies Agency and the Government. County councils and regions implemented policies, in conjunction with the Department of Education and county administrative boards. Sweden's response was less invasive than many other countries, with no general lockdown. It focused on mitigation: slowing, but not stopping, the pandemic. Physical distancing was recommended in public spaces, but mandatory in bars, restaurants and at events. Visits to nursing facilities were banned. Kindergartens and schools for children up to 16 stayed open, but closed for older children for three months. There were no enforced quarantines for infected households or geographical regions, and facemasks were not recommended outside health care.

Conclusion: Sweden chose a different pandemic strategy to its peer nations. This paper examines the first eight months.

Keywords: COVID-19; coronavirus; pandemic; social distancing; transmission.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • COVID-19 / transmission
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Physical Distancing*
  • Sweden / epidemiology