Swedish bacteriologist Agnes Wold has landed in hot water for her controversial take on the coronavirus epidemic.
“It's a real pathogen, of course. It kills people and so on. But luckily, it basically kills only elderly people. In fact, we have to be pretty grateful for that”, Wold, a professor of clinical bacteriology at the University of Gothenburg, said during the show Skavlan aired by national broadcaster SVT.
Wold also said during the programme that the most important thing about the coronavirus epidemic was “not not mix generations”.
“It is not really dangerous if 30-year-olds infect each other, if we are to be completely crass”, Wold explained, but pointed out that the younger generations “absolutely mustn't” meet the elderly.
Previously, Wold made several demands in order to participate in the show. Among other things, she demanded five empty seats around her seat on the train to minimise the risk of infection.
“They can fork out. It was a requirement. My policy is to keep people away”, Wold told the newspaper Aftonbladet.
Wold's unfortunate phrasing made many of her compatriots see red.
“When cynicism got a face”, one user tweeted.
“What is this obnoxious view of our elderly? So with that logic, should we ignore our homeless poor pensioners? I value everyone equally, regardless of age. Distasteful of Agnes Wold!” another said.
”Som tur e så dödar den ju i princip bara gamla människor vilket vi får vara tacksamma för.”— FarbodJalali🇸🇪/💚🦁🌞❤️ (@farbodjalali) March 28, 2020
Vad är detta för vidrig syn på våra äldre? Så med den logiken ska vi strunta i våra hemlösa fattiga pensionärer? Jag värderar alla lika mycket - oavsett ålder.
Osmakligt av Agnes Wold! pic.twitter.com/ruqb2iJXQ7
“Agnes Wold has an utterly disgusting view of humanity”, another one chimed in.
Agnes Wold har en genomvidrig människosyn.— Jeanette 🇸🇪 🐾 (@Vikingakvinnan) March 28, 2020
“No, Agnes, we should not be grateful that our loved ones are suffocating to death on ventilators. However, we should be grateful that younger people often do well”, another one tweeted.
"Som tur är så dödar den ju i princip bara gamla människor, det får vi vara tacksamma för" - @AgnesWold— Memingenjören 🧐😷 (@MemIngenjoeren) March 28, 2020
Nej Agnes, vi ska inte vara tacksamma för att våra nära och kära ligger och kvävs ihjäl i respiratorer. Däremot ska vi vara tacksamma för att yngre människor ofta klarar sig. pic.twitter.com/n8YLS2qP5z
Sweden has been an outlier in tackling the outbreak of the virus. While restricting gatherings upward of 50 people and advising to practice social distancing and self-isolation, Sweden's measures are nowhere near the total lockdowns imposed across Europe. For instance, restaurant customers can still be served at tables instead of takeaways, whereas preschools and primary schools are still running classes in person.
Former chief epidemiologist and today's adviser to the World Health Organisation Johan Giesecke even slammed fellow European nations for having taken “political, unconsidered actions” instead of those dictated by science.
His opinion was shared by the Swedish Public Health Authority's head of analysis, Lisa Brouwers.
“They don't seem to have thought very far ahead. The strict line recommended in various countries is not sustainable”, Lisa Brouwers told Swedish Radio. “It's unreasonable. We cannot shut down an entire society, travel, transport, and social interaction for several years. It's not possible. I don't think it's even desirable. The economy will have collapsed long before”.
So far, about Sweden has confirmed about 3,550 cases, with 102 dead and another 239 receiving intensive care. The average age of the victims was reported as 83. Given the recent spike, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said he didn't exclude that the capital area of Greater Stockholm will be isolated.