Coronavirus: Stockholm could have 'herd immunity' by next month, Swedish health chief claims

People enjoy the spring weather as they sit at Nybroplan in Stockholm on April 15, 2020, during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP) (Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images)
People enjoy the spring weather in Stockholm over the weeknd. (Getty)

The population of the Swedish capital Stockholm could achieve “herd immunity” from coronavirus within weeks, a health chief has claimed.

Dr Anders Tegnell, the man responsible for drawing up the country’s controversial coronavirus strategy, said infection rates in the capital are slowing because people had developed a resistance.

“According to our modellers, we are starting to see so many immune people in the population in Stockholm that it is starting to have an effect on the spread of the infection,” he told local media.

“Our models point to some time in May.”

People take a stroll at Norr Mälarstrand street in Stockholm, Sweden, on April 19, 2020, amid the new coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Fredrik SANDBERG / TT News Agency / AFP) / Sweden OUT (Photo by FREDRIK SANDBERG/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images)
People strolling through the streets of Stockholm amid lax lockdown restrictions. (Getty)

“These are mathematical models, they're only as good as the data we put into them. We will see if they are right.”

Sweden, which has a population of around 10 million, has seen 13,822 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus as of Saturday and 1,511 deaths.

Latest coronavirus news, updates and advice

Live: Follow all the latest updates from the UK and around the world

Fact-checker: The number of COVID-19 cases in your local area

6 charts and maps that explain how coronavirus is spreading

Asked about the death rate, Dr Tegnell said: “It is not a failure for the overall strategy, but it is a failure to protect our elderly who live in care homes.”

Sweden is widely seen as having taken a more low-key approach in its attempts to stop the spread of the disease.

It's kept primary and secondary schools open, and hasn't closed its borders or forced people to stay indoors.

Swedish foreign minister Ann Linde has previously hit out at foreign governments, in particular US president Donald Trump, for criticising the more relaxed measures.

"We are doing roughly what most other countries are doing, but we are doing it in a different way,” Linde said earlier this month.

“No lockdown and we rely very much on people taking responsibility themselves.

"We do not have a strategy that aims at herd immunity at all.

"But on the other hand we don't have that total lockdown. That means that some countries think we are not doing anything, but we are doing what is right for Sweden."

Coronavirus: what happened today?

Click here to sign up to the latest news, advice and information with our daily Catch-up newsletter