As Canadian provinces prepare to reopen their economies, Sweden never even went into a lockdown

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      Sweden has been an anomaly among western industrialized countries with its response to COVID-19.

      Rather than shut down its economy to contain the spread of the virus, it kept schools, restaurants, bars, and hair salons open.

      Critics of this policy are quick to point out that Sweden has a significantly higher death rate from the novel coronavirus than other Scandinavian countries.

      According to the latest statistics, Sweden has recorded 2,679 COVID-19 deaths, for a rate of 265 per million.

      Denmark is next in Scandinavia at 84 COVID-19 deaths per million.

      That compares to just 39 per million in Norway and 42 per million in Finland.

      But even with its approach, Sweden's COVID-19 death rate still remains far lower than the rates in other countries that have imposed economic lockdowns.

      For example, Spain's COVID-19 death rate is 540 per million. Italy is at 478 per million, Great Britain is at 419 per million, and France is at 381 per million.

      The architect of Sweden's strategy has been its chief epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell.

      He recently explained to CNN's Fareed Zakaria that his government's approach has been to give individuals a great deal of "personal responsibility" in deciding how they wanted to live their lives in the COVID-19 era.

      "We have a very flat curve," Tegnell said. "Our health system is still working. It's a tough time for them but they have never been overburdened."

      He pointed out that during the first seven weeks of the pandemic, at least 20 percent of the beds in intensive care units have remained empty at all time.

      He also told Zakaria that lot of people have stayed home and fewer people are travelling within the country.

      The Swedish model hasn't impressed everyone in the country.

      One of the government's most vocal critics is Anders Vahlne, a professor of clinical virology in the department of laboratory medicine at the Karolinska Institute.

      "They are not saying it, but it's pretty obvious that they are looking to get herd immunity," Vahlne told Euronews last month. "And of course, we don't know if we can get the herd immunity."

      He claimed that Sweden's strategy has been to do less testing than countries like Taiwan and South Korea.

      "Also I think they have misinformed the public by saying 'if you don't have symptoms, you're not contagious' and 'children don't get infecting [sic] ad they're not contagious' and so forth," Vahlne added.

      Video: Euronews interviewed Anders Vahlne, a professor of clinical virology at the Karlinska Institutet and a critic of the Swedish government';s approach.

      Vahlne said that the end result has been the unnecessary deaths of older people.

      Tegnell acknowledged to Zakaria there's been an "unfortunate number of introductions" of COVID-19 into homes for the elderly in Sweden.

      "That has really caused a very high level of mortality in those places and that's been very unfortunate. A large part of our mortality has taken place in those institutions."

      This week, several Canadian provinces are expected to announce their plans to begin reopening their economies. Canada's death rate from COVID-19 is 98 per million.