Sweden's third COVID wave ebbing fast as vaccines bite

COVID-19 mass vaccination in Stockholm
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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden, which has shunned lockdowns throughout the pandemic, has seen the number of cases and intensive care patients drop fast in the recent weeks with more than 40% of the adult population now having received at least one dose of vaccine.

The Nordic country registered 10,017 new coronavirus cases since Friday, health agency statistics showed on Tuesday, a decline compared to the 13,812 cases reported during the corresponding period last week.

Sweden has experienced a powerful third wave of the virus with the number of people testing positive per capita among the highest in Europe for months, in stark contrast to its Nordic neighbours where infections have remained relatively subdued throughout the pandemic.

However, with over 40% percent of the adult population having received at least one shot of vaccine and around 12% fully vaccinated, the number of people in intensive care has still fallen more than 30% from a peak three weeks ago.

The vaccine roll-out is also credited for deaths being relatively low this year compared to previous waves of the disease with data suggesting no excess mortality so far in 2021.

The country of 10 million inhabitants registered 26 new deaths, taking the total to 14,301. The deaths registered have occurred over several days and sometimes weeks.

Sweden's death rate per capita is many times higher than that of its Nordic neighbours' but lower than in most European countries that opted for lockdowns.

(Reporting by Johan Ahlander; editing by Niklas Pollard)

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