COVID-19 Day 77: The Swedish Model of COVID Yields Surprising Results.

Google “Swedish Model” and you’ll get more than COVID-19 research

If you want to learn more about Swedish policies concerning COVID-19 try Googling “Swedish Model” and select ‘IMAGES’ The results are vastly different than epidemiological data charts I’ve seen for other countries but it looks promising (above).

Much talk has been made about Sweden’s COVID-19 response. Oddly, depending on your political position you get either, Sweden made a reckless decision that cost lives (more than the rest of Scandinavia) or you get the position that Sweden’s strategy worked because they kept deaths relatively low without putting people out of work and going into trillions of dollars in debt. Both are true.

Much of the criticism leveled at Sweden is in comparison to neighboring Nordic countries: Norway, Denmark, and Finland. Unlike its neighbors or most of Europe, Sweden didn’t close ‘non-essential’ business or impose stay-at-home orders. The result, critics charge, was Swedens COVID-19 case rates are 3x higher and death rates 10x higher than its Nordic neighbors.

The deaths weren’t due to an overwhelmed healthcare system, as happened in Lombardy, Italy. Most of Swedens deaths occurred at senior nursing homes, whose residents continued to interact with the general population. Even the architect of Swedens COVID strategy, epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, regrets they did not do more to isolate their seniors.

In the broader context of other EU countries, Sweden and Switzerland (the only other EU country that didn’t lock down their economy) fall smack in the middle between France and Portugal in terms of per capita cases and deaths. This calls into question the assumption that stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns were effective, unless France, Italy, and the UK’s governments were less effective at enforcing those laws or their population was far laxer in following them?

Source: NY Times

Hypocritically, some of those who criticize Sweden by comparing it to its neighbors, also say you can not compare Sweden to other EU countries because no two countries are the same (eg. different cultures, population densities, etc.). The reality is in the latter is truer than the former. We can’t compare apples to apples with COVID-19 as it doesn’t affect countries the same, cities the same and rural towns, old the same as young, or even those with different blood types.

The most reasonable direction is to take the best practices from different countries and employ them where practicable in other cities and regions. The fact remains that as the US and other countries emerge from their self-imposed COVID-19 lockdowns, their policies look more and more like Sweden than not. Whether we adopt Sweden’s personal-responsibility driven health policies or South Korea’s technology-driven population monitoring, it is preferable than China’s strategy of welding doors shut, shooting people who leave their homes, and snitching on your neighbors.


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