Swedish approach to the pandemic may be the best after all

Throughout the pandemic, I have followed the Swedish policy strategy to managing coronavirus, and posted on the various ups and downs of this novel approach, which has drawn both praise and fierce criticism, not just inside the country itself, but across the Western world. Sweden resisted going into lockdowns, unlike the rest of Europe, even during the peak of its second wave over Christmas, and in doing so, has become a lightning rod for those in favour and against stricter social distancing measures.

For some, its significantly higher COVID death rate compared to its neighbours is proof that lockdowns are essential to combat the spread, while for others, the comparative openness of Swedish society proves that a “balanced” approach to the pandemic is possible. Now, a year into the pandemic, and with their vaccine rollout likely in the near future, their strategy continues to attract international attention. click full source.

The chart below shows that after more than a year into the pandemic, cumulative confirmed covid mortality in Sweden – without lockdown, mask mandate, and primary school closures – is significantly lower than the average in both the EU and the US. Within the US, the same applies to Florida, especially if adjusted for the mean age of the population. Indeed, a recent cross-country analysis found that neither lockdowns nor PCR testing rates had an impact on covid mortality. This basically invalidates the entire high-cost, low-benefit ‘Western approach’ to the pandemic. For this very reason, those who have promoted this unscientific approach cannot show the big-picture mortality data. Instead, they compare Sweden only to its two neighbours, Norway and Finland, which have the lowest covid mortality among all Western non-island countries.

Data source – Our World in Data

The source of the chart Swiss Policy Research, considered by many to be full of misinformation, goes on to review sections on Virus transmission, Virus origin, Global excess mortality, the importance of independent research, and covid vaccines, and readers can make up their own minds. However, it finishes with a very valid point that the luckiest aspect of the covid pandemic may have been the fact that covid generally remains very mild in children (and young adults). If covid had endangered 8-year-olds in the same the way it endangers 80-year-olds, the pandemic might have been a truly major tragedy and global disaster .

Excess Deaths better indicator

However, Sweden may be faring comparably better in terms of excess deaths — those greater than the usual number of deaths expected in a certain time period. Experts say excess deaths can indicate whether policies intended to combat the pandemic have unintended consequences, such as delaying treatment for other disease such as cancer and heart disease, which is an important measure of overall efficacy of policy.

While still performing worse than other Nordic countries on data from Eurostat, the official European Union statistics agency, and the University of Oxford, shows that Sweden recorded 7.9% excess deaths last year compared to the years 2016-19, according to the independent health news site Dagens Medicin. That means that the country had the 23rd lowest annual excess deaths out of 30 European countries — much lower than the U.K. (15.1%), France (10.4%) and Spain (18.9%).

Sweden also has a lower number of coronavirus deaths per million than those countries, all of which have gone under strict lockdowns during the pandemic. Pointing to the recent excess mortality studies, Nils Karlson, an economist and political scientist who jointly wrote an op-ed last year in Foreign Affairs entitled “Sweden’s Coronavirus Strategy Will Soon Be the World’s,” is more optimistic.

“There was some recent figures showing that if you count excess mortality, Sweden is one of the best countries in Europe,” he told ABC News. “And one of the reason is, of course, that we didn’t get the flu, just the ordinary flu, because we wash our hands. We have social distancing. We didn’t have as many car accidents. You know, all kinds of other stuff that that affects us didn’t happen this year.”

The resistance to lockdown, he said, is based on the idea that they are “unsustainable,” he said, and Sweden’s strategy takes into account not just economic factors, but all aspects of public life. While acknowledges the COVID death toll was too high, he said: “You have to keep society open not only for economic reasons, but also for critical public functions to to function, like hospitals, schools and so on. Schools are still open for younger kids… Otherwise, it’s remote learning. But I think it has worked fairly well.” click full source.

So there we have it. Will Sweden’s covid strategy be adopted by the World ? hardly likely, but only time will tell.

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