Sweden’s COVID Measures Have Been a Disaster

A colleague keeps posting (on the work messaging system) analysis and opinion on how well Sweden is doing on COVID without the lockdown imposed by other nations and notes that it’s unclear whether policy decisions make a difference. I find this annoying because the effect of policy decisions on COVID cases and deaths is very clear, as shown by Sweden’s numbers compared to those of other Nordic nations.

Denmark, Finland, and Norway each have a little more than half Sweden’s population (~5 million vs ~10 million for Sweden). Denmark has the second most cases and deaths, with Sweden most afflicted. Denmark has only ~11% the deaths and ~18% the cases of Sweden, with Finland and Norway faring even better.

As bad as the numbers are, a University of Virginia analysis indicates that Sweden implemented ICU bed triage/rationing that prevented some of the sickest from getting ICU treatment.

Fatality per capita, cases per capita, and Infection Fatality Rate are the major metrics I see tracked right now, but with this virus there are considerable long term health consequences for many people (I don’t see any good data on this, but assume people are working on it) so people not dying is a good but not great indicator of the pandemic’s impact.

Reasonable people can differ on the balance point between economic damage and human health damaged and lives lost, but those discussions should focus on the value of individual human life and health versus the economic health of a nation. The two are interdependent, but we need to be honest about what we’re discussing.

Sources:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/1102257/cumulative-coronavirus-cases-in-the-nordics/

https://www.statista.com/statistics/1113834/cumulative-coronavirus-deaths-in-the-nordics/

https://newsroom.uvahealth.com/2020/07/03/covid-19-deaths-in-sweden/

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