Remember a year ago or so when Sweden took a different course from most of the rest of the world and decided to open their society up and let the pandemic run its course with little intervention. They kept schools and businesses open. How did this experiment with their citizens lives work out?
Fortunately, for the purpose of comparison Sweden is one of four fairly similar states in Scandinavia. The other Scandinavian countries – Norway, Denmark and Finland – did try to mitigate the disease with remote schooling, business closures and lockdowns. Therefore he could use the four states to compare rates of infection and death.
In a concluding statement Sumner looked at the comparisons and noted that Sweden’s experiment cost Sweden the death of over 14,000 extra citizens.
As the medical journal The Lancet made clear, once that new wave of cases was underway last December, deaths in Sweden had reached a level 4.5 to 10 times higher than its neighbors.
This difference between Nordic countries cannot be explained merely by variations in national cultures, histories, population sizes and densities, immigration patterns, the routes by which the virus was first introduced, or how cases and deaths are reported. Instead, the answers to this enigma are to be found in the Swedish national COVID-19 strategy, the assumptions on which it is based, and in the governance of the health system that has enabled the strategy to continue without major course corrections.
Sweden needlessly threw away the lives of 14,000 citizens to test a theory concocted by a libertarian think tank that put a patina of respectability over a policy of doing nothing. But of course, Sweden did hold out through the year with a GDP growth of 1.2%, which was … exactly that of Norway, but slightly better than Finland. All worth it then.
What was the title of that Daily Kos article on Sweden back in April 2020? Ah … “Sweden has been conducting an experiment with its citizens’ lives, and it’s time to stop.” Only they didn’t stop. And now Sweden and the United States are the neighbors. Not on the map, but on the list of nations that did worst in handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Don’t expect things in Stockholm to get better soon. While Our World in Data shows about 27% of the Swedish population has been vaccinated, the capital has been roiled by a whole series of anti-vax/anti-lockdown protests as the government attempts to take belated action. And, just to make that echo even louder, the largest of these protests was called “The Protest for Freedom and Truth.” As The Local reports, protesters carried signs reading “the mass media is the virus,” “Covid-19 was planned,” and, “The pandemic was invented.”
Sad that some governments chose to carry out their somewhat scientific experiment on living populations. Like the US, Sweden’s experiment proved to be a major failure.