Sweden sees increased spread of British COVID variant

FILE PHOTO: Passengers wearing protective masks enter an underground railway station, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Stockholm, Sweden, January 7, 2021. Jessica Gow/TT News Agency/via REUTERS

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden has seen an increased spread of the British COVID variant, with 11% of screened positive tests showing the mutation, thought to be a more contagious form of the virus, the Public Health Agency said on Tuesday.

Out of a total of 2,220 positive samples that were screened for the British variant, about 250 were found to be of that strain.

The Health Agency also said it would not use Astra Zeneca’s COVID vaccine for people over 65, citing lack of evidence it was effective for that group.

Sweden, which has shunned lockdowns throughout the pandemic, registered 9,649 new coronavirus cases since Friday, Health Agency statistics showed on Tuesday.

The figure compares to 9,123 cases the corresponding period last week.

The country of 10 million inhabitants registered 224 new deaths, taking the total to 11,815. The deaths registered have occurred over several days and sometimes weeks.

Sweden’s death rate per capita is several times higher than that of its Nordic neighbours, but lower than in several European countries that opted for lockdowns.

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