Sweden’s top epidemiologist says he sees “no point” in mandating masks in public across the country, which has seen its COVID-19 numbers plunge in recent months.
“With numbers diminishing very quickly in Sweden, we see no point in wearing a face mask in Sweden, not even on public transport,” Anders Tegnell said, according to Fortune.
Newsweek reports that as of Sunday, “the latest death rate in Sweden (deaths per 100,000 people) was reported to be 56.40. The figure is lower than that reported in the U.K. (69.60), Spain (60.88) and Italy (58.16), according to the latest report Sunday by Johns Hopkins University.”
“That Sweden has come down to these levels is very promising,” Tegnell told reporters in Stockholm on Tuesday. “The curves are going down and the curves for the seriously ill are beginning to approach zero.”
The Swede’s comments follow those from Holland’s top scientist, who have examined data and research about COVID-19 and declared there is no clear evidence that wearing face masks protects — anyone.
In fact, the scientists say wearing masks may actually hamper the fight against virus.
“Face masks in public places are not necessary, based on all the current evidence,” said Coen Berends, spokesman for the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. “There is no benefit and there may even be negative impact.”
Writes the Daily Mail:
Holland’s position is based on assessments by the Outbreak Management Team, a group of experts advising the government. It first ruled against masks in May and has re-evaluated the evidence several times, including again last week. It believes they detract from a clear three-pronged message that has kept deaths from coronavirus down to less than half the rate in Britain: wash hands regularly, maintain social distancing of 1.5 metres and stay at home if suffering any symptoms.
The one exception outside of the medical frontline has been on public transport, where masks are mandatory on the basis it is difficult to stay apart on crowded buses, ferries and trains. ‘We have seen this approach works,’ said Christian Hoebe, a professor of infectious diseases in Maastricht and member of the advisory team. ‘Face masks should not be seen as a magic bullet that halts the spread.
‘The evidence for them is contradictory. In general, we think you must be careful with face masks because they can give a false sense of security. People think they’re immune from disease or stop social distancing. That is very negative.’