Anders Tegnell was the pandemic’s rightest man about schools.

Anthony LaMesa
2 min readAug 26, 2022

He said it would be “a disaster” to “open and close schools.”

In a September 2020 Financial Times interview, former Swedish state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said it would be “a disaster” to close schools as part of a longer answer about his rejection of lockdown-type measures.

His dislike of national lockdowns is obvious. “It’s really using a hammer to kill a fly,” he insists. Instead, his approach has been about having a strategy that can work for years if needs be, rather than the constant chopping and changing seen in the rest of Europe. “We don’t see it as viable to have this kind of drastic closing down, opening and closing. You can’t open and close schools. That is going to be a disaster. And you probably can’t open and close restaurants and stuff like that either too many times. Once or twice, yes, but then people will get very tired and businesses will probably suffer more than if you close them down completely,” he says.

According to Tengell, who lived in Ethiopia as an adolescent and would later work in Africa and Southeast Asia as a young doctor, schools are essential for ensuring children will have “good” lives.

So he looks at schools not just as a place where the virus might spread but also the most important part of health for a young person. “If you succeed there, your life will be good. If you fail, your life is going to be much worse. You’re going to live shorter. You’re going to be poorer. That, of course, is in the back of your head when you start talking about closing schools,” he adds.

Throughout the pandemic, Tegnell expressed confidence in his government’s decision to keep schools open.

Now, politicians around the world are catching up.

Today, New York Governor Kathy Hochul said it was “a mistake” to close schools and force children into virtual instruction.



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