Coronavirus, Sweden’s successes

With lockdowns very common throughout the world, Sweden’s ‘no lockdown’ policy has drawn much attention, with many news sources last year, such as Time, declaring Sweden’s approach as “a disaster” due to its relatively high COVID-19 mortality rate. Source

More recent coverage may be becoming more balanced or even favourable, however, with ABC News, while still pointing out Sweden’s apparent failures, also recognising that “Sweden may be faring comparably better in terms of excess deaths... Experts say excess deaths can indicate whether policies intended to combat the pandemic have unintended consequences, such as delaying treatment for other ailments and is an important measure of the overall efficacy of policy.” Source.

More alternative sources of news, such as the The Spectator and The Spectator Australia, however, have performed analyses suggesting that Sweden’s minimalist approach to lockdowns and vaccines has actually been very successful:

- Sweden’s coronavirus cases are amongst the highest in Europe, with deaths on the lower end, and vaccine doses amongst the lowest.

- Sweden’s excess deaths (this includes more than just COVID-19 deaths) are amongst the lowest in Europe.

- “Sweden twice forced down its Covid deaths without lockdown.”

- There is the implication that Sweden could have done even better had it done more to “protect the elderly in care homes”.

- While Sweden’s COVID-19 deaths do compare unfavourably with its Scandinavian neighbours, it is also the most urbanised, making its results compared against those of countries like France and the UK quite striking.

- There are also great differences in the results of all the Scandinavian countries. “Denmark’s [mortality rate] is thrice that of Norway and five times higher than Iceland’s. ” 

- “Danish and US researchers list 16 different factors (including lighter lockdowns) as possible explanations for Sweden’s worse toll among the Nordics. Not all are of equal weight but they are ‘thought-provoking’: average age of Covid deaths, co-morbidities, obesity levels, urbanisation, immigrant populations, crowded working and living conditions, care homes for the elderly (Sweden’s nursing home population is 50 per cent bigger than Denmark’s), cross-facility mobility of healthcare staff, hospital capacity and medicine stocks, climate, seasonality, vitamin D deficiency, etc.”

- “Last year, Sweden’s economy (which relies heavily on exports) fell 3 per cent vs 10 per cent for Britain. This isn’t just about money: years of experience of recession shows a clear link between economic downturns and public health damage: the effects are longer term.” 

- “Polls show almost three-quarters of Swedes saying that the health authority’s handling of the crisis was either ‘good’ or ‘very good’”. 

With Sydney, Australia heading into another lockdown, it may be worth considering the thoughts of Australian-based Dr Horst Herb: “Considering the damage inflicted by lockdown measures, including unemployment, poverty, delayed surgical procedures​, delayed cancer diagnosis, neglected chronic disease, social isolation, and increased mental health burden and suicides​, the Swedes could still fare better with their policy than more restrictive countries in the long run – while preserving the civil liberties of their citizens… the most severe interventions could potentially cause more harm than good… Island nations such as Australia and New Zealand may have postponed their share of deaths, but at the cost of the loss of civil liberties, serious economic damage and major non-COVID health impacts in the long run. I say postponed because both nations are unlikely to avoid them in the long run.” Source.

Okay then.

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