People enjoying the spring weather in Stockholm on April 22 despite the coronavirus pandemic.

ANDERS WIKLUND/TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP via Getty Images

The architect of Sweden’s unusual coronavirus plan says he still isn’t sure it was the right call not to introduce a lockdown.

The state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet he was “not convinced at all” and his team was constantly examining how it was going and what else should be done.

He also said it was important to “be humble all the time because you may have to change,” according to The Independent.

Sweden has introduced only a handful of rules and has left places like parks and restaurants open, but its death toll is much higher than neighboring countries’.

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The scientist behind Sweden’s controversial coronavirus plan says he is still not sure whether the country made the right decision by not implementing a lockdown.

“I’m not convinced at all,” Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s state epidemiologist, told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet on Friday, adding that the country’s Public Health Agency — where he works — was constantly monitoring the situation.

“We are constantly thinking about this … What can we do better and what else can we add on?” he said, according to The Independent.

“I think the most important thing all the time is to try to do it as well as you can, with the knowledge we have and the tools you have in place. And to be humble all the time because you may have to change.”

The state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell at a press conference in Solna, Sweden, on March 12.

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images

Sweden has attracted international attention and scrutiny for choosing to rely on citizens’ sense of public duty and trust that they’ll practice social distancing even without a host of rules meant to keep people apart.

People in Sweden are urged to stay apart, but shops, restaurants, bars, parks, and elementary schools are still open, with the limited rules including a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, a ban on visits to care homes, and restaurants kept from serving customers who aren’t seated.

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If Sweden’s plan proves successful, it could serve as evidence that other countries might have dealt with the virus without devastating their economy and keeping people inside.

But whether it has been successful is up for debate: The country’s death toll is far higher than that of many other countries that introduced harsher restrictions.

People in Stockholm on April 21.

Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP via Getty Images

Sweden, with its population of over 10 million, had recorded 2,679 COVID-19 deaths as of Monday morning.

The country’s death rate, adjusted for population, is much higher than the rates of its locked-down neighbors — more than six times that of Norway and more than three times that of Denmark.

Even if the lack of a lockdown is ultimately viewed favorably, it is also possible that other countries could not have taken the same path as Sweden. The country has an unusually high level of trust in its government and in experts, has a strong belief in citizens’ duty to one another, and is sparsely populated.

Tegnell and Sweden’s government have repeatedly expressed confidence in the plan.

Tegnell said last month that the strategy had achieved its goal of stopping the country’s health service from being overwhelmed and that it was “very difficult” to know whether a lockdown could have prevented more deaths.

He added that the virus passing through Stockholm, the country’s capital, had allowed some immunity to build up among the population.

He also said that about 15% to 20% of people in Stockholm had reached a level of immunity that would “slow down the spread” of a second wave of the virus, something experts worldwide say could be coming.

People outside in Stockholm on April 22.

ANDERS WIKLUND/TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP via Getty Images

But the World Health Organization and other experts have warned that it is unclear how long people who have been infected might be immune and even whether they will be.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven also expressed his confidence in the plan last week, claiming it could work in the long term as countries try to find a way to manage their populations until a vaccine is found.

“I feel confident in the overall strategy,” he said, Reuters reported. “One reason that we have chosen this strategy, and where we have supported the agencies, is that all measures have to be sustainable over time.”

But some scientists in Sweden and around the world have been worried that the strategy will result in a needlessly high death toll.

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