Face of Sweden’s virus strategy doesn’t get WHO job

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Sweden’s former chief epidemiologist, considered the architect of the country’s unconventional response to the coronavirus pandemic, isn’t going to work for the World Health Organization after all.

Sweden’s Public Health Agency reported Wednesday that WHO said “that an agreement has unfortunately not been reached” for Anders Tegnell to take on an “intended assignment” at the U.N. health agency.

Tegnell instead will return to the Swedish agency and be in charge of “international commitments.” He has been the country’s chief epidemiologist since 2014.

During the pandemic, Sweden intentionally held off imposing lockdowns and eventually tallied one of the world’s highest per capita COVID-19 death rates,

The Swedish Public Health Agency agency announced in February that Tegnell, 65, was going to work at WHO in Geneva. The focus of the new job was global coronavirus vaccination efforts and coordinating the activities of WHO, UNICEF and the public-private vaccine organization Gavi.

“Of course I am disappointed. We thought we had clear signs that this was going to happen,” Tegnell told Swedish tabloid Expressen.

Sweden stood out among European nations and much of the world for the way it responded to the pandemic. The government did not impose restrictions that closed down parts of the economy and instead relied on citizens’ sense of civic duty to protect the population.

Swedish authorities advised residents to practice social distancing, but schools, bars and restaurants remained open.

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