Svenska Dagbladet is a Stockholm-based daily and provides coverage of national and international news as well as local coverage of the greater Stockholm region. It has a circulation of 143,400 copies and identifies itself as liberal conservative.
Carl-Johan Karlsson

Growing Evidence Of COVID-19's Neurological Impact

The most common symptoms are fever, a dry cough and loss of taste and smell. The majority of deaths are due to respiratory failure. But more studies about COVID-19 are now focusing on neurological factors in what is still a largely mysterious pandemic. In the last few weeks, findings from around the world give support for earlier indications of coronavirus infections being linked to the brain.

  • Sweden: A study from the University of Gothenburg shows that certain patients in ICU care have suffered brain damage, reports daily Stockholm-based Svenska Dagbladet. Doctors already knew that severe infections impaired cognitive abilities, but it turns out that even patients not in need of respiratory assistance have experienced similar complications. Swedish scientists are now investigating whether the damage is caused directly by the virus or by immune system failure.
  • Italy: Up to 30% of COVID-19 patients have had some impact on the brain, according to Professor Alessandro Padovani, head of the neurology unit at the University of Brescia, who launched a "NeuroCovid" center to study the effects of the virus on the brain. Padovani told Corriere della Sera that the impact on the brain of COVID-19 patients is a more severe version of the potential neurological risks of a typical flu, particularly for the elderly, including a 1.5% higher likelihood of suffering a stroke. This is one of the reasons it is advisable to get a flu shot, Padovani said.

Inside the COVID department of a hospital in Palermo, Italy — Photo: Igor Petyx/IPA/ZUMA

  • France: Director general of health Jérôme Salomon confirmed in April that neurologic lesions were often identified in patients in intensive care — lesions that were sometimes temporary and sometimes permanent. The first symptoms of neurologic lesions that were highlighted in France were anosmia and ageusia, alteration of the sense of smell and the loss of taste functions.
  • United States: In some cases, impaired respiration is due to damage in the brain center that controls breathing, according to findings from a research team from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland. They also identified an inflammation in the area of ​​the brain that determines the respiratory rate. The study shows that injecting anti-inflammatory drugs into the central nervous system reduces inflammation both in the brain and in the lungs.
  • China: A Chinese study published in the Journal of Medical Virology also suggests that SARS-CoV-2 can induce neuronal damage. The study compared the novel coronavirus to previous ones, like HEV67 and avian bronchitis virus, which can first invade the peripheral nerve endings and then access the nervous system.

The Latest: Vaccine Record, Catalans Pardoned, NFL Coming Out

Welcome to Tuesday, where India sets a daily vaccination record, Spain's prime minister seeks reconciliation with Catalonia and Australia's Great Barrier Reef could join the list of endangered World Heritage sites. Les Echos also takes us to Japan, where the business model of its notorious yakuza crime syndicate is crumbling because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Global vaccination, good news & bad: Cuba reports its Abdala shot is 92.28% effective, China has administered its one billionth dose of its own vaccine, and India is also setting records, after campaigning to make vaccinations free for all adults, more 8.3 million doses were administered on Monday. However, shortages remain, namely in Venezuela where people are seeing second-dose appointments cancelled.

• Spain to pardon jailed Catalonian leaders: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will pardon nine jailed Catalonian separatist leaders who were involved in the region's attempted secession in 2017. Sánchez hopes the move will inspire reconciliation with the Catalan region.

• Renewed tension in Jerusalem neighborhood: Tensions have reignited in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood after a night where Palestinians and Jewish settlers threw stones, chairs and fireworks at each other. Forced evictions of Palestinians in the contested East Jerusalem neighborhood ignited the protests and 11-day war last month, which killed hundreds and left more than 100,000 civilians displaced. The Red Crescent reports that it is treating 20 Palestinians for injuries in the latest clashes.

• Myanmar military and resistance group clash: The Myanmar military and an anti-junta resistance force clashed in the country's second largest city, Mandalay. This is the first time direct fighting between the junta and breakaway security forces has occurred outside of small towns and villages.

• Rights group calls on UN to increase pressure for Ortega regime: After a series of politically motivated arrests in Nicaragua, including that of a fifth presidential candidate and the former first lady, Human Rights Watch will release a report calling on the United Nations to condemn the regime of President Daniel Ortega.

• UNESCO: Great Barrier Reef "in danger": The UN cultural and preservationist body has recommended that the Great Barrier Reef be added to the list of world heritage sites that are "in danger," as the reef has seen mass bleaching due to climate change. The Australian government is "strongly opposed" the recommendation.

• First NFL player comes out as gay: Carl Nassib, a defensive lineman for the Las Vegas Raiders, shared a video on social media publically declaring that he is gay, making him the first active player to do so in the league's 101-year history.

Watch Video Show less
Carl-Johan Karlsson

Sweden's Economy v. World On Lockdown

Not surprisingly, early indicators point to a less bleak future for Sweden's still-open economy than for that of its European counterparts. A recent study by Swedbank shows that private consumption in Sweden shrank 17% between April 6 to April 19 compared to the same period last year, while revenue from hotel and restaurants was down 50%. Swedbank's chief economist Andreas Wallström, commented in daily Svenska Dagbladet that the economy is bleeding, but not to the extent as in countries where strict lockdowns were put in place.

In Norway, unemployment has shot from 5% to 10% since mid-March, while Sweden has seen only a 1% increase to 8% since late February. Meanwhile, in harder-hit countries such as Spain, the unemployment rate, which ended 2019 at 14%, is now expected to climb to nearly 21% in 2020, reports Spanish daily El Pais. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund predicts a drop in Spanish GDP of 8%, a drastic turn from the solid growth of 2% in 2019, while similar forecasts of an 8% drop in Portugal, Latvia and Lithuania, while in Italy and Greece, the IMF predicted the fall will be even greater: 9.1% and 10%, respectively.

We now live in an economy that is both infinitely more dynamic and geographically interconnected.

Still, early indicators offer little guidance for what to expect for the future, and tell us even less about the extent to which lockdowns should be held accountable for current economic impacts. Norway, as an example, might be seeing a steeper rise in unemployment rate than Sweden due its heavily oil-dependent economy, while countries like Spain and Portugal are almost certainly suffering worse downturns due to its already frail economies, which could crumble further if the summer tourist season is effectively canceled.

Other unknowns include how a possible second wave of COVID-19 would affect countries with different degrees of lockdowns, and the corresponding pace of post-pandemic recovery. A recent study led by two economists with the U.S. Federal Reserve shows that while areas most affected by the 1928 flu pandemic saw a persistent decline in real economic activity, cities that implemented early and stringent social distancing measures suffered no adverse economic effects over the medium term, but rather saw a relative increase in real economic activity after the pandemic subsided.

Still historical analogies have their limits: We now live in an economy that is both infinitely more dynamic and geographically interconnected, and while some national responses may emerge as blueprints for others, the global economic impact of the crisis will be just that — global.

Carl-Johan Karlsson

Sweden And Herd Immunity: Simple Math Or Plain Madness?

Sweden's lax regulation during the coronavirus crisis continues to perplex the outside world.

From Italy, one of the hardest hit countries and the first in Europe to impose strick lockdown measures, this is how the contrast with Sweden looks: "We're inside our homes and they're not. Our schools are closed and theirs stayed open. We can't go out and exercise, they can," begins an article in Milan-based daily Corriere della Sera. "Are these Swedes crazy? No, say the Swedes, you're the crazy ones."

Even reporters from its Nordic neighbors — where heavy restrictions were imposed last month — are perplexed, with a Danish journalist describing the Swedish strategy like "watching a horror movie," as the death toll in Sweden is four times higher than in Denmark, surpassing 1,300 on Friday. Meanwhile Norwegian and Finnish newspapers have reported on their respective populations' fears of being infected by Swedes crossing the border.

Domestically too, the health authorities are under fire, with 22 scientists from research institutes and universities urging the government, in an Op-Ed published by daily Dagens Nyheter, to shut all cafes and schools. Sweden is now the last holdout for what has been labeled the "herd-immunity" approach, but Swedish health authorities insist their strategy is not strictly herd immunity, reports daily Svenska Dagbladet, but to simply slow down the spread — just like everyone else. So what's the real difference?

Empty bar in Rome, Italy — Photo: Matteo Trevisan/ZUMA

In a nutshell, herd immunity is when a full population is protected from infection before all are immune. This occurs when those infected are surrounded by people who have achieved immunity either through vaccination or recovering from the virus. While the occasional contact is still susceptible and the odd transmission happens, it's not enough to sustain the disease.

Sweden would reach 60,000 deaths before herd immunity is achieved.

A pure herd-immunity approach would therefore be to let COVID-19 burn through the population until enough people have recovered and become immune. But the issue is the death toll. The "R0" of a disease is equal to the number of additional infections a typical case will cause before they recover — if R0 is greater than 1, the epidemic grows; if it's smaller than 1, it shrinks. Let's assume that RO is 3 (COVID-19 is estimated at R2-3) then the infection initially grows until two-thirds of the population become immune, meaning that two out of three infectious contacts will lead to no spread. However, if forecasting the lowest estimated fatality rate of COVID-19 — about 1% — then a country like Sweden, with 10 million inhabitants, would reach 60,000 deaths before herd immunity is achieved.

Swedish state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell reasons every country will eventually have to achieve herd-immunity to beat the virus, but the spread needs to be controlled so hospitals don't become overburdened and the most vulnerable don't get infected; and in that way herd-immunity can be achieved without massive loss of life. Tegnell says that Swedes are practicing social distancing measures just like every other population — the difference being that they come as recommendations rather than rules.

While there are encouraging signs of many countries now turning the corner on the most acute phase of the crisis, it's still to early to decide whether Sweden's will be a model for the future or the example to avoid. A key to determining that are two basic questions every government should be looking at: Will Sweden prove better equipped for a second wave of the virus? How will the socioeconomic impacts compare to those in the locked-down countries in the months and years to come?

Carl-Johan Karlsson

A Swedish Exception? Why Sweden Is Ignoring Calls For Quarantine

STOCKHOLM — As COVID-19 shuts down vast swathes of the world, Sweden has become Europe's last "open" holdout. In the 10-million strong Nordic country, borders, elementary schools, offices, gyms and even restaurants remain open. So far, some 5,500 have tested positive for the virus and more than 300 people have died, but the government stands firm: No lockdown is the order of the day. So, what's the rationale?

State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell argues the virus will inevitably pass through a large chunk of the population, and that China-style containment will only cause it to flare up again. Rather, the better way is to manage the pace of the spread — for which a lockdown is superfluous.

Similarly, Public Health Agency general director Johan Carlson says locking people up for months at a time is a far worse "experiment," than controlling the spread over time. He says citizens will question rigid measures that make no sense: "Why can only one person walk the dog if there are two owners who live together?" Carlson asked in a recent interview with Public Service Television (SVT).

Sweden seems to have successfully implemented the approach Boris Johnson initially espoused.

It's worth noting that Swedish health authorities enjoy unusually high independence. For comparison, in neighboring Norway and Denmark the government ignored health authorities' recommendation to keep schools open. Tegnell, who gives daily briefs to the Swedish people, has been more successful in selling his strategy, which is supported by 52% of the population, according to a survey by Svenska Dagbladet.

So far, in fact, Sweden seems to be implementing the controversial approach Boris Johnson initially espoused in the UK. Tegnell is banking against a scenario predicted in the much talked-about study from Imperial College London that warned attempts to let the virus spread to eventually immunize the population would bring one million British deaths. Tegnell dismissed that study, which pushed Johnson to opt for a lockdown, as "not peer reviewed," and said he was surprised it had stirred up such as fuzz in the UK.

But some form of Swedish lockdown may be on its way. The death toll is considerably higher than in the other Scandinavian countries, and Sweden finally banned gatherings of more than 50 people earlier this week, reports Dagens Nyheter. Look for authorities to incrementally roll out more restrictions as the death toll climbs.


Coronavirus — Global Brief: Information, The Poison And The Cure

The insidious path of COVID-19 across the planet is a blunt reminder of how small the world has become. For the coming weeks, Worldcrunch will be delivering daily updates on this crisis from the best, most trusted international news sources — regardless of language or geography. To receive the daily Coronavirus global brief in your inbox, sign up here.


When considering the risks of misinformation circulating about COVID-19, the virus analogy is too useful to pass up. Self-serving broadcast propaganda, "fake news' targeted for social media clicks, bad medical advice passed on to a friend ... or a nation: all of it can spread rapidly — with the symptoms in plain view, or all but impossible to detect.

Of course the actual cure to the coronavirus ultimately rests in the hands of doctors and researchers. Yet until then (and beyond), the importance of a free press, of reliable and accurate information — especially in our digital age — cannot be overstated. Indeed, the plot line of what is perhaps the most far-reaching news story since World War II begins with Li Wenliang, a 34-year-old doctor in the central city of Wuhan, who was silenced by Chinese government officials for sounding the alarm online about coronavirus back in December.

Since then, we have seen political leaders from Brazil and the U.S., to Hungary, India and elsewhere, either spread misinformation or impose restrictions on the press, or both. This week in India, professional journalist associations tried pushing back against the goverment's new controls on how to report on the pandemic.

We sit on a particular perch at Worldcrunch as a global source of information that discovers, interprets and connects other sources from different countries and languages. More than ever, we are only as good — and free — as our colleagues around the world.

—Jeff Israely


  • European glimmers of hope: The daily death toll in Spain has dropped for the fourth day in a row, down to 637 and Italy"s death toll dropped to its lowest in two weeks. France has 6,838 people in intensive care, some 105 of whom are under the age of 30, but the numbers are rising at a slower rate.
  • UK leaders: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted to hospital for persisting coronavirus symptoms, shortly after Queen Elizabeth gave a rare TV address to urge resolve in face of the pandemic.
  • Monday markets: Global stocks and U.S. futures on the rise as coronavirus cases slow in some European countries, but oil prices remain on edge with postponed Saudi Arabia-Russia talks.
  • Japanese emergency: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expected to declare state of emergency after surge of cases in Tokyo.
  • Abidjan fears: Locals destroy a coronavirus testing center that was under construction in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, fearing it was too close to their homes.
  • Feline cases: A tiger tested positive for the virus at Bronx zoo, after being reportedly contaminated by caretaker. Last week a cat was confirmed to be infected in Belgium.
  • Double duty: Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who worked as a doctor for 7 years, has rejoined medical register to help fight against the pandemic.
Watch Video Show less

Telecom Giant Ericsson To Close All Production In Sweden

Svenska Dagbladet's front page â€" Sept. 22, 2016

Swedish telecom network giant Ericsson plans to shut down all its remaining production plants in Sweden, Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) reports in a front-page exclusive Thursday. The Stockholm daily cites internal documents, which would confirm the end to the Swedish company’s more than 140-year-old tradition to keep at least part of its production at home, a sign of the deepening troubles for Ericsson in the face of steep high-tech competition from Silicon Valley to South Korea.

According to the daily, Ericsson plans to close its network product plants in Borås and Kumla, which would result in nearly 3,000 jobs being slashed.

SvD calls the move “historic”, saying the closures are due to the company’s need to save up to 3 billion kronor ($350 million) in costs. In the internal report viewed by SvD, Ericsson says: “We are ending a more than 140-year-old production era, corresponding to the largest Ericsson staff cuts in Sweden ever.”

Citing anonymous sources, the newspaper writes that the plan has already been presented to management and acting CEO Jan Frykhammar. A decision on the cost-cutting measures is expected shortly.

Once one of the global leaders within the telecom industry, Ericsson has struggled amid increasingly steep competition. In 2011, it sold off its 50% stake in Sony Ericsson, effectively ending its mobile phone production to entirely focus on its telecom infrastructure business. The company currently has a total of some 15,000 staff in Sweden.


When Japan Embraces Pure Swedish Living

Residents celebrating Midsummer in Sweden Hills, June 22, 2014 â€" Photo: threepinner

More than a handful of Japanese have taken the idea of cultural fusion to the next level.

Tucked in the hills about 30 kilometers from Sapporo City, Japan, and some 8,000 kilometers away from Stockholm, a small village called Sweden Hills is home to some 2,000 Japanese residents who live in Swedish-style houses, Svenska Dagbladet reports.

These Japanese locals have fully embraced Swedish culture â€" speaking the language, celebrating Midsummer, throwing crayfish parties, adorning the some 500 characteristic houses with the blue-and-yellow Swedish flags and dressing up in traditional Swedish clothing.

The town's construction began in 1984 after the then Swedish ambassador visited Tobetsu Town and remarked how similar the atmosphere and scenery were to his native country. Today, Sweden Hills has a sister city in northern Sweden, a relationship meant to promote cultural and commercial ties between the countries.

On its webpage, Sweden Hills is presented as the right place for those who seek "perfect life quality."

City of Luodian, Oct. 28, 2010 â€" Photo: AndSig

Similarly, in China, the "Swedish" city of Luodian is just 25 kilometers from downtown Shanghai. Luodian, or "Chinese Sigtuna," is one of six European-style towns that were built a decade ago to absorb Shanghai's growing population. Though these outposts still constitute an attractive destination for Chinese vacationers, China's slowing economy has left them otherwise deserted today.