Thursday, May 21, 2020

Is Sweden's Covid Experiment a Failure? The Early Results Aren't Promising.

While the rest of Europe went into lockdown, Sweden decided to try something different. The Swedes chose not to lockdown their economy and, instead, try to develop 'herd immunity' by allowing the public to contract the virus.
Just 7.3% of Stockholm’s inhabitants had developed Covid-19 antibodies by the end of April, according to a study, raising concerns that the country’s light-touch approach to the coronavirus may not be helping it build up broad immunity. 
The research by Sweden’s public health agency comes as Finland warned it would be risky to welcome Swedish tourists after figures suggested the country’s death rate per capita was the highest in Europe over the seven days to 19 May.
Swedish health authorities were expecting that 25 per cent of the population would have Covid-19 antibodies by the end of April. What they mainly got was a high death rate.
Bj√∂rn Olsen, a professor of infectious medicine at Uppsala University, said herd immunity was a “dangerous and unrealistic” approach. “I think herd immunity is a long way off, if we ever reach it,” he told Reuters after the release of the antibody findings.
While the overall coronavirus death rate per million is greater in Italy (535), Spain (597) or the UK (538), Sweden’s (376) is far in advance of Norway’s (44), Denmark’s (96) and Finland’s (55) – countries with similar welfare systems and demographics, but which imposed strict lockdowns.
As of today, Canada has the 12th highest infection rate of 143 countries monitored at just under 166 
deaths per million. Not a great record, especially not for a northern nation.


Gordie Canuk said...

You made a common mistake in assuming the goal of the Swedish response was to achieve so called 'herd immunity'.

Sweden's head epidemiologist said from the start that the reason for avoiding hard lockdown measures is because the fight against the virus is going to be a marathon and not a sprint....hence any measures brought in would have to be sustainable over the long term, as in for at least 12 months and likely much longer.

Herd immunity might be a secondary benefit but that was never the has been noted by many experts, herd immunity might not come to pass because its possible that those who have been infected will not develop antibodies.

Sweden is doing worse in terms of Covid deaths than Canada or its Scandanavian neighbours, but I imagine they're doing better in terms of spousal and child abuse, suicides and other negative outcomes that come from tossing people out of work and shuttering schools.

If the only goal is to reduce Covid deaths...then at this stage Sweden chose the wrong path. If the goal was to minimize all the collateral damage that comes from lock down measures, then maybe they chose a better response.

Now that we're loosening up measures we'll see how we do.

Anonymous said...

Well, Quebec sure skews our results with 4,000 of the over 6000 deaths.

I use the John Hopkins site free on Globe and Mail, which has Canada at 162 deaths per million, probably a case of differing population "guesses".

Quebec is at 445, and should hang its head in complete shame.
Ontario is at 135.
NS where I live is at 59.
BC is at 30 alomg with Alberta.

All the other provinces are at less than 10 per million.


Anonymous said...

As of today with 94,000 deaths, the US is running about 285 deaths per million if you assume a 330 million population. Of course as in many other things, i don't think the US has a clue what its population is. There, public health is an oxymoronic term, Trump or no Trump. No money in it.


The Disaffected Lib said...

Well done. Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. You too, Gordie.

the salamander said...

.. Historic Times..
Indeed a great read.. excellent comments
Look forward to reading your 'Lethal Delay' post in a moment
though I cheated with a quick glance.. fab cartooning !!

Almost on a continuous basis I find myself 'filtering' or refining my own perceptions. I do hope to outwit, avoid, deter getting the damned virus myself.. and of course skip class re Long Term (Short Term??) Installment.. and ensure I get to read accurate historical facts and summaries down the long winding road I travel. The daily 'News' is of course staggering.. in all respects.. but the butchery of Trump Inc especially.. and any needless loss of life or suffereing

Thus we tend & defend our 'bubble'.. and limit risk.. but still live exceptionally well, can laugh, try to see the wind.. eat seafood and range fed meats such as chicken and beef. We find Rapini a truly worthy stand in for Fiddlehead Greens (any day now).. and the Lake Erie White Perch (7.00$/lb) is a knockout as is wild caught BC salmon. Ontario asparagus is in now.. Yay ! We skinned the Thursday salmon and arrayed the asparagus - baked on parchment in a big baking pan.. and tossed it down with a fine but pricy Point Pelee Pinot Noir Reserve on the deck. Boss runs, works out & walks daily.. I am gliding on the bike daily.. and have high hopes the 500 or so milkweed seeds I planted last fall are about to show themselves.

Northern PoV said...

"Of course as in many other things, i don't think the US has a clue what its population is."
Good point BM.
Interesting that both the CDN CONs and the US Rethuglicans have compromised their national census, a basic (ancient) tool of civil society.
To paraphrase an idiom I heard too often in biz:
"If they can't measure it, they'll never know how my win is your loss."

Meanwhile Swedes compete w the other Scandinavians & Russians for the title of 'least empathetic culture'.

rumleyfips said...

I don't think the US has a clue about covid related deaths either. The Financial Times ran a piece by Bill Krystol about the rise in total deaths this spring versus last year. They found 23,000 more people died this year, potentially bringing the Toto covid deaths to 118,ooo.

rumleyfips said...