Government of Sweden, 1 March 2011
An official evaluation has been made by the authorities in Sweden of that country’s response to the 2009 influenza A(H1N1) pandemic. This multi-agency review has had eight separate strands or areas, carried out by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency and the National Board of Health in collaboration with the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (SMI – Smittskyddsinstitutet) on behalf of the Swedish Government. The results of the evaluation were announced via an official press release on the SMI’s website on 1 March 2011. The report of the evaluation states that although the Swedish national pandemic plan was based on a more serious evolution of events than was actually the case, the burden on health services was greater during the 2009 pandemic than during regular seasonal influenza epidemics. The number of influenza patients in outpatient and inpatient care was more than double than during the previous influenza season and critical care was heavily overburdened by patients with severe viral pneumonia.
Sweden successfully managed to handle the pandemic and the mass vaccination campaign was carried out relatively quickly and efficiently. The evaluation pinpoints that a success factor was the national, regional and local coordination and existing networks and working groups. In addition, the commitment and loyalty of staff nationally, regionally and locally involved in the work contributed greatly to this success. Another interesting finding is that the communication was more costly than many players had planned for and did not reach some target groups, particularly young adults and non-Swedish speakers. The evaluation also indicates that the impact on critical societal activities due to the influenza A(H1N1) 2009 pandemic was insignificant, arguing that this could be so because the pandemic was of mild nature and relatively few people had to stay at home off from work because of illness. A weak point, the report mentions, is that extensive information systems able to track the spread of infection at population level were only in place in Stockholm. Moreover, monitoring of the pressures on hospitals was missing and almost no opportunity to follow the national burden of intensive care existed.
This and other national and international evaluations can be reviewed through ECDC’s Pandemic Evaluations and Lessons Learnt web-site