COVID-19: When will this nightmare end?

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On the 2nd of October 2020, Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States announced that he had contracted Covid-19, joining the 35 million other cases reported worldwide, but will this momentous event change anything?

As the UK has seen in a leader contracting COVID-19, this can drastically change a country’s perspective on the pandemic, and with the USA being a major world leader this could ultimately be telling on a global level. Should Trump decide to take a much harsher stance on coronavirus, many other developing countries under US influence could introduce lockdowns which could be vital to slowing it down. Although this could mean an extended lockdown, ultimately this would result in fewer cases and therefore a higher chance of returning to normality. So far, the USA’s approach has been laid back and focusing on the economy, as was the UK before Boris Johnson fell ill, although perhaps Trump’s personal struggles will lead him to adopt a more European approach, and by doing so, take the rest of the world with him?

Despite most of Europe going for a very authoritarian approach, similar to East Asia, in an attempt to preserve lives, Sweden has deviated from this general trend as they have decided to play the long game and take the initial hit. Top Swedish Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell (below) has repeatedly focused on sustainability being key in Sweden’s response to the virus, as he believes chopping and changing policies too much damages businesses and loses the support of the public.

Initially, Tegnell was viewed as reckless by many as Sweden incurred much higher death rates than neighbouring Scandinavian countries whilst feeling a similar economic impact. Mass deaths in care homes led for some to call for him to resign however he stayed cool and composed as he has throughout the pandemic and Sweden is beginning to reap the rewards. Whilst almost all Western countries have now seen a rise in cases, as they start to reopen for the economy, Sweden continues to see cases falling.

Another interesting way that Sweden has dealt with the pandemic is to not make masks mandatory at all. Obviously, this differs from almost every other European country, this is because as Tegnell says “Face masks are an easy solution, and I’m deeply distrustful of easy solutions to complex problems”. This phrase perfectly sums up Sweden’s approach to the pandemic with them being the only European country alongside Belarus to not have a lockdown. Tegnell explains this by saying “It’s like using a hammer to kill a fly” this shows his dislike for blanket bans and that he prefers more tailored approaches, this is seen by Sweden having detailed restrictions for where to stand in supermarkets and how restaurants should serve people. This is barely seen anywhere else in the world.

This creative response that allows more stability in the country has garnered large support for Tegnell, catapulting him from an unknown scientist to a national sensation. Not following the crowd has earned him a lot of respect within the national health agency as 500 members of staff dutifully follow orders based on of his ideology showing their trust in what he is doing. This is reflected in the general population with Sweden’s citizens reported as the most likely to follow restrictions.

Tegnell believes that coronavirus will be with us for the long term hence his desires for a sustainable approach. Many other countries are waiting for a vaccine to magically cure COVID and for life to go back to normal, viewing the vaccine as the only way for this to suddenly end. However, Anders Tegnell is wary of viewing the vaccine as a “ silver bullet”, and believes that telling the public that is misleading, as it will not be that easy once a vaccine is released and we will still have to live cautiously.