Erland Josephson has died
Actor and author Erland Josephson has died. He was 88 years old. The actor, who for most is known for his work with director Ingmar Bergman, was born in Stockholm in 1923, and was the artistic director of the Royal Dramatic Theater there from 1966 to 1975. Though he published novels, short stories, poetry, and drama and directed several films, it is for his work as an actor he is remembered. Josephson was often cast in roles of intellectual character. Apart from his parts in Ingmar Bergman’s films (among them: “Fanny and Alexander”, “Scenes from a Marriage”, “Cries and Whispers”, and “Face to Face”), he also had an international film career, starring in predominately European so-called art films, like Andrej Tarkovsky’s “Nostalghia”. Erland Josephson was a grandson of the famous Swedish painter Ernst Josephson.

Record flu
Last week a record number of cases of the flu were reported in Sweden. Smittskyddsinstitutet (the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control), whose mission it is to monitor the epidemiological situation for communicable diseases in Sweden, believes some 100 000 people were ill then. And the flu is spreading over Sweden. During week 7, 405 cases of seasonal flu were reported. That’s more than double as many cases as the week before. It is also the highest number since 1993, when flu cases were first measured. Add to that the fact that these were reported cases, only a drop in the water compared to the real number, as many people don’t go to the doctor but just stay at home, when they get the flu. “When we see such an enormous case with seasonal flu as this one, we usually count on 5 to 15% of the people being ill,” says state epidemiologist Annika Linde at Smittskyddsinstitutet. “But since so many are sick now, we must approach the peak.” This year the seasonal flu also hit Sweden earlier than usual. It began already at the end of January.

Preparing for new mass vaccination
In spite of the rather inadequate results from the 2009 mass swine flu vaccination (Sweden was the country with most vaccinations - 60 percent of the population was vaccinated), the country is yet again preparing for a new round of vaccines. There is still unused vaccine worth some 600 million SEK ($90.3684 million) stored. But there’s a risk the vaccine will expire. The government has now asked Socialstyrelsen (The National Board of Health and Welfare) to secure contracts for buying new vaccines. The 2009 mass vaccination led to some side effects, however, as over 150 children and young adults became sick with the chronic disorder narcolepsy, and there are now demands for an independent investigation of that mass vaccination. Göran Stiernstedt, director at Sveriges Kommuner och Landsting (Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions) was one of the initiators behind the 2009 Pandemrix campaign and he is convinced it wasn’t worth it. “I had my doubts about it, if it was right to act that forcefully, because I knew what had happened in Australia—that (the swine flu outbreak) wasn’t as dramatic as we perhaps feared it would be,” he says.

Another Reinfeldt hits politics
First there was Fredrik Reinfeldt (Sweden's Prime Minister), then Filippa Reinfeldt (his wife - who has been Municipal Commissioner of Täby, since 2002 and Mayor and Chairperson of the Täby Municipal Executive since 2005), and now there’s also Gustaf Reinfeldt, their son who, at age 18, was just elected to chairman of the Moderata Ungdomsförbundet (the Moderate Youth League) in Solna. Reinfeldt junior appropriately let the world know in the most modern of ways – through his Twitter account: “Am now elected chairman of the Moderate Youth League in Solna. Earlier in the week I was elected member of the Competence Board of Solna!” Way to go Reinfeldt!

Two months without food
A 45-year-old man was found alive outside the city of Umea, in northern Sweden, after having been trapped in his snowed-in car for at least two months. The man kept himself alive by eating snow. “It’s unbelievable that he is alive, especially since he has had no food, but also because it’s been extremely cold during the period after Christmas,” said a person from the rescue team. A couple on snow scooters discovered the man, after initially thinking his car was a wreck. When they cleaned up around the car and examined it, they saw someone move inside. They called the police, and an ambulance was sent for. The man was discovered in a sleeping bag in the back seat and could say a few words, but was too weak to get out of the car by himself. He says he has no family. Why he happened where he did, in a never-plowed blind alley, is not yet clear. Under the circumstances, he is now doing well.