Alcohol and the coronavirus pandemic

Different countries’ corona strategies have handled alcohol consumption in very different ways. Some countries were quick to reduce the availability of alcoholic drinks, while others have viewed alcohol as a possible lifesaver for the local economy. The researchers behind the series of reports entitled “Alcohol and Society” consequently decided that they would like to take a closer look at the role of alcohol consumption in spreading the corona virus and contracting COVID-19. The theme of the 2021 report is, therefore, the effect of alcohol on the immune system and on transmission of the virus, given the effect of alcohol on human behaviour. The report also examines the ways in which the effects of the pandemic – in terms of anxiety, social isolation, unemployment, etc., – have affected alcohol consumption and the ways in which the alcohol industry and the world’s governments have responded to these challenges. As the pandemic is still ongoing and the situation is changing rapidly, the research group has been obliged to adjust its choice of method and sources accordingly. The report is therefore different in focus from previous ones. Rather than focusing on critiquing scientific evidence to improve our understanding of a relatively established topic, the researchers took a broad scan of different information sources in order to highlight and contextualize areas where concerns may only just now be emerging.


It is our hope that this report will help increase knowledge and awareness of alcohol-related risks in connection with both this and future pandemics, both in purely physical terms – in that alcohol weakens the immune system – as well as increased risk of the spread of infection, due to alcohol’s effect on human behaviour.

Kristina Berglund,
Director,  CERA, University of Gothenburg

Ami Hommel,
Chair, The Swedish Society of Nursing

Magnus Isacson,
Chair, The Swedish Association of General Practice

Arne Winerdal,
Chair, SAFF

Joar Guterstam,
Chair, The Swedish Society of Addiction Medicine

Peter Friberg,
Director, SIGHT

Johnny Mostacero,

Kristina Sperkova,
International President, Movendi International