Let’s tackle another one of those “Ask me in a year” questions that popped up around last April… and this one was pretty contentious… the question of how Sweden was handling the pandemic, in harsh contrast to most of the rest of the world. Sweden’s head epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, had the same response to his critics. “Ask me next year”.
A year later, the answer can be summarized in one sentence: “What else were you expecting?”
Both Sweden and the U.K. initially tried the same approach… which was mostly a version of “Protect the elderly and vulnerable, but the rest of you can go on with your lives as normal. No masks or any of that nonsense needed.” In the U.K., that didn’t last long. They quickly course-corrected when things started getting out of hand. Back in Sweden, Tegnell felt abandoned, but held the line… and, as usual, the longer it goes, the harder it is to admit you were wrong, because then… part of it is having to admit you were wrong all along.
On that note, there are those who will still argue it wasn’t wrong. There are people who have friends and relatives that needlessly died… who’ll tell you it wasn’t wrong. I’m not here to judge people’s opinions, though one thing I’ve learned over the last year is that there are a lot of irrational people, and then more irrational the idea, the more irrationally some people will hold on to it.
Culturally, Sweden is most like its Nordic neighbours, so let’s just do a bit of and apples-to-apples comparisons:
Covid-19 deaths per million of population:
Economic impact of C19 on GDP 2020:
Expected GDP recovery 2021:
In summary, thanks to their policies, between three to ten times the number of deaths… and, as far as that being the trade-off for saving the economy? It seems to have had no impact whatsoever. And these days, in Sweden, out in public and especially on public transit… you’ll see lots of masks.
Asked and answered. Moving on.