Johan Giesecke

Swedish epidemiologist

Johan Giesecke (born September 9, 1949) is a Swedish physician and Professor Emeritus at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

From 1995 to 2005, Giesecke served as state epidemiologist of Sweden. After this, he was Chief Scientist at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control from 2005 to 2014. As of 2020, Giesecke is a member of the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Infectious Hazards of the World Health Organization, and also works as an advisor to the Public Health Agency of Sweden.


  • We, or the Swedish government, decided early, in January, that the measures we should take against the pandemic should be evidence-based. And when you start looking around at the measures being taken now by different countries, you'll find that very few of them have a shred of 'evidence-based'.
    But we know of one that has been known for 150 years or more, that washing your hands is good for you and good for others when you're in an epidemic. But the rest, border closures, school closings, social distancing... there's almost no science behind most of this.
  • I think it's not very good. And the thing that they miss a little is... Models for infectious diseases are popular, many people do them, they're good for teaching, but they seldom tell you the truth because... I'll make an exemple: Which model could have assumed that the outbreak would start in northern Italy in Europe? Difficult to model that one.
    And any such model, it looks complicated, there are strange mathematical formulas, and integral science and stuff, but it rests on the assumptions, and the assumptions in that article have been very critized... I won't go through that, it would take the rest of your day to go through it all.
    The paper was never published scientifically, it's not peer-reviewed, which a scientific paper should be, it's just an internal departmental report from Imperial. And it's fascinating, I don't think any other scientific endeavour has made such an impression on the world as that rather... debatable paper.
  • When I first heard, which is now six weeks ago, about different draconian measures that were taken, I asked myself "How are they gonna climb down from that one? When will they open the schools again? What should the criterion be to open the schools?". Did any of the strong and very decisive politicians even think about how to get out of this when they introduced it?

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