Sweden's stay-open approach is creating herd immunity quickly, ambassador says

Stockholm nearing herd immunity in next few weeks, top diplomat to United States says

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SwedenStaysOpen
People eat in an outdoor restaurant in Sweden.
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Last Updated:
April 26, 2020 - 10:24pm

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Sweden's decision to keep schools, malls and restaurants open with limited restrictions during the pandemic is yielding success, with its capital city about to reach herd immunity in the next few weeks, according to the country's ambassador to the United States.

"About 30% of people in Stockholm have reached a level of immunity," Ambassador Karin Ulrika Olofsdotter told NPR in an interview published Sunday. "We could reach herd immunity in the capital as early as next month."

Herd immunity means between 60% and 80% percent of a country's population has become immune to a virus, either recovering from it or through immunization.

Sweden banned gatherings of over 50 people but otherwise left schools, restaurants and malls open, provided citizens observe social distancing. Facilities that don't comply have been aggressively closed down.

Sweden has reported more than 18,500 confirmed coronavirus cases and 2,194 deaths as of Sunday.

The country's approach to the pandemic has bucked much of the Western world, and generated controversy.

"We share the same goal as all other countries, and that is of course to save as many lives as possible and protect public health," Olofsdotter explained to NPR. "So we face the same reality as everyone else. But what's different, and I think it's important to underline that all countries are different, is that politicians take the measures that they think works best for their country and their general public."