Annika Linde, who served as state epidemiologist from 2005 until Tegnell took over in 2013, told The Telegraph that the Public Health Agency of Sweden had throughout the pandemic shown a reluctance to plan for the worst.

“Wishful thinking – when you don’t believe in the worst scenario – has been guiding Swedish decisions too much,” she said. “The Swedish authorities have been slow all the time. Instead of being proactive, they’ve run after the virus, and the virus has been able to spread too much before they take action.”…

On Thursday, Tegnell argued that Sweden had not been alone in being wrong-footed by the severity of the second wave. “The development has been different from what we believed in the summer, and that’s not just the case for Sweden but for the whole world,” he said. “The pandemic has taken off in a way that few countries had expected.”

Sweden, he conceded, did not have the level of protective immunity he had predicted, with the number of undetected infections significantly lower than the agency initially believed. “The number of people we don’t find with diagnostics is with high probability smaller than we thought,” he said.