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How Sweden swerved Covid disaster The death toll here is lower than nations with draconian restrictions

Sweden's kids were free Credit: Martin von Krogh/Getty Images

Sweden's kids were free Credit: Martin von Krogh/Getty Images


November 8, 2021   5 mins

A hundred years ago, in New York City, 20,000 people marched down Fifth Avenue in protest against one of the greatest public health policy experiments in history. One of them was wearing a sign featuring an image of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” beside the slogan, “Wine was served.” There were posters of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. Another read: “Tyranny in the name of righteousness is the worst of all tyrannies.”

For a year, beer, wine and spirits had been illegal throughout the United States. From a public health perspective, it seemed a reasonable enough measure. That alcohol was a dangerous substance was clear: disease, violence, poverty and crime were intimately bound up with it. Even now, despite its failure, it is known as the “noble experiment”. But was it right to prevent people from making drinks they not only enjoyed, but that also served important cultural and religious purposes? Not for the first time, Americans found themselves torn in a balance between freedom and security — nor for the last.

Until recently, prohibition remained the largest experiment in social engineering a democracy had ever undertaken. And then, in early 2020, a new virus began to spread from China. Faced with this threat, the world’s governments responded by closing schools, banning people from meeting, forcing entrepreneurs to shut their businesses and making ordinary people wear face masks. Like prohibition, this experiment provoked a debate. In all the democracies of the world, freedom was weighed against what was perceived as security; individual rights versus what was considered best for public health.

Few now remember that for most of 2020, the word “experiment” had negative connotations. That was what Swedes were accused of conducting when we — unlike the rest of the world — maintained some semblance of normality. The citizens of this country generally didn’t have to wear face masks; young children continued going to school; leisure activities were largely allowed to continue unhindered.

This experiment was judged early on as “a disaster” (Time magazine), a “the world’s cautionary tale” (New York Times), “deadly folly” (the Guardian). In Germany, Focus magazine described the policy as “sloppiness”; Italy’s La Repubblica concluded that the “Nordic model country” had made a dangerous mistake. But these countries — all countries — were also conducting an experiment, in that they were testing unprecedented measures to prevent the spread of a virus. Sweden simply chose one path, the rest of Europe another.

The hypothesis of the outside world was that Sweden’s freedom would be costly. The absence of restrictions, open schools, reliance on recommendations instead of mandates and police enforcement would result in higher deaths than other countries. Meanwhile, the lack of freedom endured by the citizens of other countries would “save lives.”

Many Swedes were persuaded by this hypothesis. “Shut down Sweden to protect the country,” wrote Peter Wolodarski, perhaps the country’s most powerful journalist. Renowned infectious diseases experts, microbiologists and epidemiologists from all over the country warned of the consequences of the government’s policy. Researchers from Uppsala University, the Karolinska Institute and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm produced a model powered by supercomputers that predicted 96,000 Swedes would die before the summer of 2020.

At this stage, it was not unreasonable to conclude that Sweden would pay a high price for its freedom. Throughout the spring of 2020, Sweden’s death toll per capita was higher than most other countries.

But the experiment didn’t end there. During the year that followed, the virus continued to ravage the world and, one by one, the death tolls in countries that had locked down began to surpass Sweden’s. Britain, the US, France, Poland, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Spain, Argentina, Belgium — countries that had variously shut down playgrounds, forced their children to wear facemasks, closed schools, fined citizens for hanging out on the beach and guarded parks with drones — have all been hit worse than Sweden. At the time of writing, more than 50 countries have a higher death rate. If you measure excess mortality for the whole of 2020, Sweden (according to Eurostat) will end up in 21st place out of 31 European countries. If Sweden was a part of the US, its death rate would rank number 43 of the 50 states.

This fact is shockingly underreported. Consider the sheer number of articles and TV segments devoted to Sweden’s foolishly liberal attitude to the pandemic last year — and the daily reference to figures that are forgotten today. Suddenly, it is as if Sweden doesn’t exist. When the Wall Street Journal recently published a report from Portugal, it described how the country “offered a glimpse” of what it would be like to live with the virus. This new normal involved, among other things, vaccine passports and face masks at large events like football matches. Nowhere in the report was it mentioned that in Sweden you can go to football matches without wearing a facemask, or that Sweden — with a smaller proportion of Covid deaths over the course of the pandemic — had ended virtually all restrictions. Sweden has been living with the virus for some time.

The WSJ is far from alone in its selective reporting. The New York Times, Guardian, BBC, The Times, all cheerleaders for lockdowns, can’t fathom casting doubt on their efficacy.

And those who’ve followed Sweden’s example have also come in for a lot of criticism. When the state of Florida — more than a year ago and strongly inspired by Sweden — removed most of its restrictions and allowed schools, restaurant and leisure parks to reopen, the judgement from the American media was swift. The state’s Republican governor was predicted to “lead his state to the morgue” (The New Republic). The media was outraged by images of Floridians swimming and sunbathing at the beach.

DeSantis’s counterpart in New York, the embattled Democrat Andrew Cuomo, on the other hand, was offered a book deal for his “Leadership lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic”. A few months ago, he was forced to resign after harassing a dozen women. But the result of his “leadership lesson” lives on: 0.29% of his state’s residents died of Covid-19. The equivalent figure for Florida — the state that not only allowed the most freedom, but also has the second highest proportion of pensioners in the country — is 0.27%.

Once again, an underreported fact.

From a human perspective, it is easy to understand the reluctance to face these numbers. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that millions of people have been deprived of their freedom, and millions of children have had their education gravely damaged, for little demonstrable gain. Who wants to admit that they were complicit in this? But what one American judge called the “laboratories of democracy” have conducted their experiment — and the result is increasingly clear.

Exactly why it turned out this way is harder to explain, but perhaps the “noble experiment” of the 1920s in the US can offer some clues. Prohibition didn’t win because the freedom argument prevailed. Nor was it because the substance itself had become any less harmful to people’s health. The reason for the eventual demise of the alcohol ban was that it simply didn’t work. No matter what the law said, Americans didn’t stop drinking alcohol. It simply moved from bars to “speakeasies”. People learned to brew their own spirits or smuggle it in from Canada. And the American mafia had a field day.

The mistake the American authorities made was to underestimate the complexity of society. Just because they banned alcohol did not mean that alcohol disappeared. People’s drives, desires and behaviours were impossible to predict or fit into a plan. A hundred years later, a new set of authorities made the same mistake. Closing schools didn’t stop children meeting in other settings; when life was extinguished in cities, many fled them, spreading the infection to new places; the authorities urged their citizens to buy food online, without thinking about who would transport the goods from home to home.

If the politicians had been honest with themselves, they might have foreseen what would happen. For just as American politicians were constantly caught drinking alcohol during the prohibition, their successors were caught 100 years later breaking precisely the restrictions they had imposed on everyone else. The mayors of New York and Chicago, the British government’s top advisor, the Dutch Minister of Justice, the EU Trade Commissioner, the Governor of California all broke their own rules.

It isn’t easy to control other people’s lives. It isn’t easy to dictate desirable behaviours in a population via centralised command. These are lessons that many dictators have learned. During the Covid pandemic, many democracies have learned it too. The lesson has perhaps not yet sunk in, but hopefully it will eventually. Then perhaps it will be another 100 years before we make the same mistake again.

This is an edited translation of an article that first appeared in Sydsvenskan.


Johan Anderberg is a journalist and author of The Herd, a bestselling history of the Swedish experience during Covid-19.

johananderberg

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Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

And he didn’t even mention the huge cost to people’s livelihoods
 businesses closing, people losing their homes, people pushed into poverty in their hundreds of millions mainly in the developing world, other diseases being ignored as people had access to doctors cut off.
Thankfully, unlike most other media outlets, most of the commenters on this forum argue against lockdowns and other draconian restrictions and Sweden was held up as an example. However there are still a minority who think lockdowns a) work and b) they are justified and that personal freedoms lost are acceptable.
We have witnessed corruption, lying and manipulation of populations on a grand scale – governments, large organisations, corporate media, big tech and let us not forget the large businesses who have made oodles of money from the pandemic – obviously including big pharma.
This experiment has shown that most of the Western populations believe anything that is told them and are perfectly happy to have their rights and liberties snatched away. It has also demonstrated that many people simply lack the wherewithal (empathy?) to imagine the impact of lockdowns on the lives of others. Food on my table and money in the bank? I am OK.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago

I neither agree or disagree with you. You have a viewpoint which benefits from hindsight.
Maybe Sweden was right but did all of these commentators know at the time? I remember reading UnHerd a year ago and quite a few people were in favour of lockdowns. Today, opinion has swung over completely.
Right at the beginning when Italy was the first country to suffer, I was actually working there and there was a daily battle between the old and the young. The young wanted to party and the old were scared. They were not scared because the government told them to be scared. They were frightened because they thought they were going to die.
It is easy to be wise after the event and even easier to blame the faceless governments.

Last edited 2 years ago by Chris Wheatley
Patrick Fox
Patrick Fox
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

What you say is correct no one knew and no one will probably ever know. This being said the article is right in that at the time when no one knew some/many medias when on to attack Sweden’s approach as if said medias knew any better when in fact they did not.
This questions the reliability of information in such circumstances and since today all are better informed on the consequences of the various measures taken in different countries it would only be fair and honest from an intellectual stand point that such media come back on Sweden and recognise that their predictions were unsupported, that Sweden did much better than they had predicted and thus that they were wrong (misinformed) because they could not know.
A pinch of public self introspection is what the media and many journalists lack nowadays ( and before) they would rather just brush off their errors, ignore them and act as if they had been right. This is for me the lesson of this article

Last edited 2 years ago by Patrick Fox
Iris C
Iris C
2 years ago
Reply to  Patrick Fox

No one knew but herd immunity has always worked with other viral infections.

Hugh Marcus
Hugh Marcus
2 years ago
Reply to  Iris C

Everyone knows herd immunity works. The question is really the cost of getting there, in human lives. That’s really the question governments have been grappling with.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
2 years ago
Reply to  Iris C

I think our government was going to go that way, but warnings of the potential for half a million deaths getting there blew them off course.
As to why *we* were so irresolute and the Swedes were stronger, I think in the specific case of the UK we have a less settled society, or community, whatever we call it.
Brexit has not been *settled* in the sense many, and indeed especially in the media continued then, and even now, to view almost anything as a UK bad, somewhere elsewhere better, if not actually good.
And inside this un-settled division there is also the sub-set situation in respect of Scotland where the SNP administration not only try to present any comparisons as a bad thing for the UK, to work to make them so.
FRance has it’s Gilets Jaune and Banlieu divisions, Belgium is divided also…basically if you are going to try and tough out a policy you need a fair sized majority actually behind you to have any chance of success, and I don’t mind a parliamentary majority. In our info drenched, and therefore opinion drenched world, one needs as a real and cohesive majority that is prepared to tough it out.

Nikolai Hegelstad
Nikolai Hegelstad
2 years ago
Reply to  Patrick Fox

We all new, because all pre pandemic planning by WHO pointed to little or no effect from virtually any of the non-pharmaceutical interventions. Sweden saw this.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
2 years ago
Reply to  Patrick Fox

I agreeIt is natural to compare outcomes afterwards and draw conclusions..what am I saying?! It is necessary and indeed obligatory, but we also have to bear in mind the situation as they existed then.

I have always thought the footage and tone of coverage from Bergamo’s Hospital was a key moment when the thing seemed to flip from everyone being a bit worried to everyone’s heads flying off…”If it can happen in a modern well funded health service in a well off middle class town etc…”

Media, government, and most importantly ordinary people all reacted the same way almost instantly.
With regards to the specific aspect I think Sweden got it right, I also feel there is virtually no chance of another lockdown, and indeed governments are now very attuned to what they think ordinary people can, or will, accept when framing options.
So in that sense we are all Swedes now, they *won* and we*lost* however given just a similar virus with some small tweaks it is possible a very similar approach would lead to very different outcomes and place in the *league table*.
Maybe we do ‘create our own luck’, and that explains why Sweden has done so well,happily and indeed thankfully, as it is definitely now a great example of an alternative approach, and we really ought move to emulating.,
But having said that, luck is still luck, and we need to remember that also when we see very proscriptive policies of any sort being pushed , especially when pushed with great certainty…..

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

As someone who was elderly with a lung condition and asthma I took the risk of catching COVID seriously while not feeling afraid. However,the hysteria whipped up by the MSM undoubtedly pushed the UK government into an overreaction. Health and safety gone mad is not a phrase one hears all that often now but undoubtedly that was the driving force of the lockdown restrictions.
Many of the restrictions were completely bonkers. It was known from an early stage that the chance of catching COVID in open spaces was extremely low and yet absurd restrictions were imposed to limit the amount of time people could circulate in the open and these restrictions were enforced with Stasi like zeal.
Again it was known at an early stage that speaking and worse shouting spread COVID but the sensible precaution of imposing silence as a health measure was never explored. Much normal commercial activity could have continued if people had simply been urged not to talk unless absolutely necessary..
Unfortunately, just as thirty mile an hour speed limits are enforced regardless of the the actual risk ie whether there are in fact anyone about who could be at risk, so no sensible discretion was allowed in the enforcement of the COVID restrictions.
On the whole most people take the precautions necessary for their own and their relations safety if given the right information. Draconian restrictions are simply not necessary as Sweden amply demonstrated despite the errors they, along with others made in relation to the elderly in care homes.
The UK experience was simply a bureaucratic health and safety overreach.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jeremy Bray
Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Although the stasi like restrictions were FAR FAR worse across Europe than here. The UK really got off lightly in comparison. In Spain masks have been mandatory outside as well as indoors. Not much fun in 30 degree heat. At points you had to have a letter of permission to leave your house and time slots for shopping. In France you had to have a good and provable reason to travel and getting stopped was a common occurrence. In the UK I never felt that was as strictly enforced, there were some big scare stories in the press, I suspect, to encourage compliance.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

Yes, fair comment Cheryl. “Stasi like zeal” is perhaps something of an exaggeration despite some of the absurd enforcement stories one read about in the press.
While I know, or know of, people who died of Covid I don’t know anyone who was harassed for breach of the lockdown regulations. Certainly I took little notice of the time and distance restrictions without fear of any enforcement, although I never got to check my eyesight at Barnard Castle.
Again you are right that some of the restrictions and enforcements were more draconian on the Continent. Given the differences in population density, ethnic mix and other factors it is impossible to say whether the greater restrictions rendered value for the extra loss of freedom. My own view is they did not.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jeremy Bray
Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Spot on…

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

It’s easy to blame the government, faceless and otherwise, that has lied about this thing from the very beginning, and especially since they funded it and profit from it.

D Glover
D Glover
2 years ago

I assume that you mean the Chinese government, since they are the ones who profited. China has sold the world respirators, PPE and vaccines. China has seen its competitors cripple their own economies and education systems.
The UK debt is now ÂŁ2.2 trillion. Beijing must be laughing.

Last edited 2 years ago by D Glover
Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

And doesn’t China make most of the batteries for electric cars . How they must love Boris

Hugh Marcus
Hugh Marcus
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

They aren’t the biggest source of batteries. Interestingly, they’ve adopted electric cars & buses much quicker than the west. Expect to see lots of Chinese cars on Europe’s roads over the next decade. Not to mention the main brands that are setting up factories in China. Volvo’s new EVs (branded Polestar) are made entirely in China.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

On the contrary, fairly early on in the epidemic most Unherd commenters were anti-lockdown because logic dictated. The mood was created by an interview Unherd conducted with Johan Giesecke in about April last year (so very early) and it picked up momentum from there.
Most people here bravely stuck their necks out against lockdowns and I’m not going to have you talk about hindsight. It was foresight.
Yes, there were always the few loud dissenting voices who could not compute the downside of lockdowns because they had money in the bank or salaries coming in.

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
2 years ago

Yes. It was foresight. You only had to look and think.

Michael Richardson
Michael Richardson
2 years ago

This.
Unherd interviewed several pro-lockdown people: Ferguson, IIRC Devi Shridar, and early in 2021 a pro-lockdown epidemiologist from Sweden. Thing was, Ferguson already had a track record of predictions that massively over-estimated; Shridar was to my mind barely coherent; and the Swedish guy was already wrong on the first wave.
So I – and I’d presume a lot of other Unherd’ers – rejected the lockdown narrative on the basis that it was not plausible.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

There were dissenters, but they were seen as exactly that. Dissenters.

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Well. Little old me could see the authoritarians coming out from the start. I have backed Sweden from day one. The hypocrisy of the experts and officials has been on display for all to see, but only if you were open to seeing.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

It’s fair to say that the lockdown of spring 2020 was a reasonable response; we didn’t know how bad it would be.

I’m not so convinced it should have gone on so long, nor that there should have be one last winter.

The point that hits me is that it was quickly apparent that the elderly and unwell were really the ones at risk. It would have been reasonable to work, as best as possible, to protect them while letting younger people go about their business.

The Sweden and Florida example are pretty clear suggestions that little was gained at great cost.

Josh Woods
Josh Woods
2 years ago

I agree with you, even though I was still among those hit hardest by the 1st Aussie-wide lockdown in March-May 2020, as the rules were actually softer than what came afterwards, namely back March 2020 people gatherings of max. 2 people and no limit on how many people in a household allowed to go out per day, though I was lied to by ex-friends who are lockdown fanatics that I wasn’t allowed to go out unless for essential reasons(I didn’t find out until long after that lockdown despite defying what they’ve told me, assuming the risk of breaking rules for survival). However, these ex-friends’ exaggerations of the 1st lockdown became the actual rules of the subsequent lockdowns(fortunately I only needed to endure one in Adelaide before I was forced out of Oz in March 2021), and my heart truly breaks for the countless women & men who suffer from domestic violence and now being further crushed by these hard lockdown rules. I even compiled a big list of Aussie helplines for people like them so they can get help sooner, but sadly most of my ex-neighbors in Adelaide(many whom are middle-class lockdown fanatics) hardly bothered to share it further.
I’ve signed the Great Barrington Declaration not just for myself, but also for the many others hit even harder by lockdowns yet being silenced and sidelined. I heart broke again when many smeared it, BUT I’m moved to tears when Florida, Sweden and the authors the GBD-Drs. Jay Bhattacharya, Sunetra Gupta & Martin Kuldorff were proven right, and to a lesser extent Hong Kong too(I lived there from past March-July) which, despite having excessive mask mandates and restaurant ‘curfews’, never had a city-wide lockdown, and yet they’ve done an alright job(remember HK has the entire New South Wales’ population stuffed less than one 11th the size of Sydney!)

Last edited 2 years ago by Josh Woods
Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

It depends on the event after which one is being wise.

I went along with the first lockdown because we were dealing with the unknown. But the unknown rapidly started to become known. Death rates by demographic group and heath status became known. But there has been no commensurate change in public policy. We are still being subject to restrictions out of all proportion to the infection fatality rate. I’m double jabbed, have my booster booked (with some misgivings given the emerging indications of the potential harms to the immune system as a result of repeated, especially mRNA, vaccine administration) and am a clinical trials volunteer. So I’m no conspiracy theorist. But the ongoing maintenance of a state of emergency by our government, and by governments, is starting to point to a combination of group think, collective cowardice, a lack of leadership, and above all an addiction to executive action that bypasses messy democratic processes and accountability that I find increasingly disturbing and unacceptable.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

You are missing the point.
The general media had no problem with predicting disaster in Sweden and Florida. (they sure had no problem spreading their “wisdom” before knowing the truth)
The issue is that no one knew what was going to happen, as you correctly say above, yet dissenting opinion was not allowed to be heard in many places. Even now, the results in Sweden and Florida are not being broadcast.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

You’re missing the point. We have hindsight and yet it is being censored, because the conclusions to be drawn are inconvenient for all those people whose status and income depends on lockdowns and other measures. .

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

The answer surely is reasonably clear here – offer protection, gold plated protection – economic and social support to those who need it, not imprisoning the entire population while creating a class of informers. What a truly ugly society, but one really that was rather apredictable outcome.

Also, people have rights, they don’t however in any liberal democracy have the right to trample all over the rights of others, simply because they may (for the time being) be a majority.

Perhaps the focused protection approach as advocated by the Great Barrington Declaration authors was beyond the competence of states like Italy, Britain and many others. That in itself is damning – and pretty alarming should we have a much worse crisis on our hands at some time.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
David Batlle
David Batlle
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

No one knew, but some believed. And they were right. Time to admit as much. Time to give credit where it’s due.

Addie Schogger
Addie Schogger
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

but there *were* experts who argued for a more measured approach. The Barrington Declaration had smoe heavyweight medical minds behind it. They were ridiculed and sidelined and found it hard to get a hearing in the MSM.

Isabel Ward
Isabel Ward
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

You say no one knew but whilst that was obviously true initially as the pandemic has gone on more and more is becoming known and from a relatively early stage it was clear that (in comparison to most other pandemics) the mortality rate from Covid was both low and asymmetric in its impact.

Jack Streuth
Jack Streuth
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I think an important point that the article was trying to make was that Sweden took the less ‘experimental’ path. People have lived with epidemics before, in fact fairly recently, but we have never shut down entire societies. Consequently the UK and the rest ventured down an untrodden path, without possibly knowing where that path might lead. That has to be regarded as reckless.

Peter Rigg
Peter Rigg
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

i think the problem is that we are not being wise ,even after the event. Many still bay for lockdowns at every increase in cases.

Andy Moore
Andy Moore
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Chris I understand where your coming from however I would also ask why they thought Lockdowns were the answer.
The data was certainly available in the UK prior to the second and third lockdowns to show that they didn’t work and infections were already falling.
My personal view is that the government didn’t seek advice from multiple sources and didn’t question the people who were advising them, more strongly. The moving of 25k old people from hospitals and into care homes was catastrophic and resulted in thousands of deaths, there were no impact assessments done prior to the action; that shows a complete lack of a clear thought process.
Group think is a real thing and in the case of Covid it’s shows how deadly it can be.

Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

People were frightened because of the media not because of what they saw with their own eyes. Who funds the media and who funds the WHO?

Those who were not being brainwashed by the media in early 2020 were awake to what was really going on from the get-go. Only those who were not awake at the time are now having to rely on hindsight to understand how outrageous lockdowns and mask wearing has been and how it has ushered in a surveillance.state that will change our world beyond all recognition.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

Lesley, you are always a voice of reason with your commentary. May your tribe multiply!

Steve Bouchard
Steve Bouchard
2 years ago

I agree with your assesment Lesley. I’m not a statitician but consider the numbers. Didn’t Neil Ferguson predict many deaths from Covid (which there have been but not to the numbers he suggested), Mad Cow and Bird Flu? Our global leadership (whoever they are) chose to use his Imperial College model to base their policies on. Here is a great site to look at raw numbers.
https://www.worldometers.info/
Spend some time comparing numbers of many diseases and you be the judge if the world did not over react.

Bruce Haycock
Bruce Haycock
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve Bouchard

One of the main problems with Ferguson’s projections is they took no account of the voluntary changes in behaviour by large numbers of people who simply ‘don’t want to catch something’ especially something as novel and unknown as Covid

The voluntary changes maybe be driven by all sorts of criteria such as, fear, ignorance, good or bad information, mimicry etc, it basically doesn’t matter, people respond rationally in their own perceived self-interest whether rationally or irrationally informed

And so in Sweden and in Florida, people voluntarily restricted their social and entertainment gatherings, at risk enterprises such as retirement complexe and essential infrastructure voluntarily introduced severe restrictions because it was in their overall stakeholder interests to do so

And so risk assessment and management becomes distributed as it should at myriad different levels everywhere along with failure points, costly misjudgements and adaptive learnings

Rather than clunky, top down bureaucratic restrictions with their uncounted but real collateral impacts and own share of failure points, misjudgements and politically distorted learnings

The same argument applies to vaccination passports/ certificates. If you’re going to have these it should be voluntary at the enterprise level as to requiring their use. Customers would make their own choices and the enterprise would feel the benefits or cost of its deployment decision based on trading results or other relevant measures

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
2 years ago
Reply to  Bruce Haycock

People making their own choices. Some people (usually lower socio-economic groups) don’t have a realistic / practical choice open to them. So, not surprisingly, these groups suffered more than average in 2020.
In October / November 2020 the message coming out of the UK government was “Think carefully about what you are going to do this Christmas”
So many people I suppose had a good think and met up anyway because the staffed critical care capacity in the NHS was almost but not quite overwhelmed on January 11 2021.
So much for informed, voluntary action in the UK.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

Leslie, to me it is about FREEDOM. ‘The Gasden Flag, ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ is an official American Flag, and we once believed in that – like General Stark said, ‘Live Free Or Die’ is the official motto of the State of New Hampshire.

Denying the freedom of the business owner to conduct their business, the student the freedom to get their life together, the freedom to go where you wish – The Fa* cis*s who locked the world down are no different to their historical ilk. They took the freedom of the citizens which they did not have the authority to do.

Iris C
Iris C
2 years ago

And what about disposing of all the waste – masks and other throw-aways. And what do you make of the fact that England has recorded less Covid infections (with no restrictions) than Scotland and Wales, where masks are still compulsory. Could it be that putting on and off masks throughout the day (and handling them from face to pocket impregnated with moisture and germs) could be having a detrimental effect? .

stephen archer
stephen archer
2 years ago

Johan Giesecke made quite a few judgements and predictions in the early stages of the pandemic based on his long experience of epidemics, some of which have held out in time to be correct whereas others have been completely wrong. His most stark misjudgement has been on lockdowns in the western world where he seriously doubted that the Chinese strategy of locking down society would ever be accepted or tolerated in the western world. An unanswered question which he posed to NZ journalists in an online interview was how NZ was planning to exit lockdown and closed borders. Even with the vaccines the outcome of this when it does happen is subject to conjecture.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  stephen archer

I didn’t say Giesecke got it all right, but he certainly got most right and that interview was an early time stamp that I remember for when people starting loudly to fight back against lockdowns. In his wildest dreams he could not have conceived the draconian measures that Western democracies would use.

stephen archer
stephen archer
2 years ago

Yes, he was correct in most aspects of basic pandemic planning and respiratory disease consequences and I believe he played a big part in Sweden’s successful strategy. I am one of his biggest “fans” and thought everything he was saying made sense. I was dismayed to watch his second interview when he struggled to defend his judgements in response to Freddie’s loaded questions, being a man of few words.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  stephen archer

Yes, he should have pushed back and defended his success.

Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
2 years ago

The world was watching Sweden. Mr Anderberg. Despite the senseless media, the attempt to tarnish Sweden, it has prevailed and leads the way.

For many of us who were shocked at the initial 3 week lockdown being extended into a catastrophically long series of lockdowns, everyone who has any sense of critical thinking was looking eagerly at Sweden and hoping other countries would take notice. Sweden the outlier has truly shown the way, without it, there would have been no way of knowing if it was going to be successful. Subliminally, it’s effect HAS spread to Denmark, Norway & now Britain who is now not considering bringing back lockdowns this winter despite the cases. Some of the reason is vaccines but essentially lockdowns are proven time and time again to fail.

So we are glad that Sweden did not turn sheeplike and showed leadership and it will forever be mentioned as a success in times of crisis and win for democracy in times of utter hopelessness elsewhere.

Nikolai Hegelstad
Nikolai Hegelstad
2 years ago

As much as I dislike the swedush way I gotta give it to them this time.

Last edited 2 years ago by Nikolai Hegelstad
Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
2 years ago

“This fact is shockingly underreported”. It’s only a shock if you ascribe sincere motivation to politicians and journalists. Neither can claim this. Both were deliberately acting against individual liberty to advance a leftist agenda of increased state control. It was never about public health.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago

Very well said. I would only add that these things, especially masks, allowed the virtuous a visible badge to show their virtue. This is a hugely important part of the equation in the US.
Just last week, a woman from Florida had a letter published in the Wall Street Journal, decrying the lack of restrictions and begging for more government control, comparing Florida unfavorably to California. I understand that the opinion pages, especially the letters page should publish a variety of opinions, but I was especially taken by this letter.
Finally, Corona took a dear friend of my mother last year. She was 90 something, had been bed-ridden for many years, and had had dementia for at least 6 years. Perhaps she died as a result of Cuomo’s idiotic (though celebrated) policies, but is this an “excess death?” Is this a tragedy? We all must die of something–Corona did her a favor.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

When it was reported that Boris had said something crass at the news the average age of Covid victims was 82 while life expectancy was 81 I couldn’t help but agree with him. I’ve always thought Boris has good libertarian instincts and I think he has been coerced into lockdowns rather than enthused by them so it’s disappointing he has embraced the grossly Davos-inspired NetZero madness. It makes me think he knows something we don’t.

Jeff Carr
Jeff Carr
2 years ago

There are still zero Covid evangelists for whom every case should be eliminated. Early in this virus distribution a number of facts became apparent – 80% of deaths were in the over-70’s, many deaths had co-morbidities and there were almost no deaths in the under-20’s. In the light of this Sweden appears to have adopted the correct long-term approach. They also did not do enough to protect their senior citizens which was a major factor in their death rate.
Now we have vaccines that curtail the level of illness and death after infection, it seems that the principle justification for lockdowns has been eliminated.
We now need to accept that Covid is endemic and it is beneficial for young healthy people to build up their immunity naturally rather than contribute to the profits of big Pharma.
Countries like Australia and New Zealand are going to have to accept the reality and get vaccinating their elderly and vulnerable to avoid excess deaths otherwise they will be living forever in fear of infection.
50% of UK infection is in the Under-20s. Surely this is a positive for the long term health of our society?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Carr

Search on the very pro vax/mask Dr Campbell – he is youtubes favorite, comforting, covid doctor – he has several long shows on Ivermectin – Why did all the Medical Groups ban study of Ivermectin? I keep my tubes of horse de-wormer in my medicine cabinet.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Carr

Yes, the continued hysteria over infections rates makes no sense. The vaccines are protecting the elderly and the young are building their immunity.

Andrea X
Andrea X
2 years ago

Boy, I am glad to see that Sweden has not fallen off the face of the earth, but simply got cancelled.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

one American judge called the “laboratories of democracy””

Hahaaa – laboratories of totalitarianism in fact.

The writer makes an excellent case for not locking down, and believes it was a ‘MISTAKE’ that other countries tried Lodkdowns, but nothing is further from the truth it would seem. The other countries made no mistake, they Wanted to take all freedoms, they wanted to play fas*ist and be able to demand to see ‘Papers’ and use the police against the honest citizens, and empty the prisons and make prisoners of the law abiding.

The Politicians wanted their kickbacks from the Pharma/medical industrial complex. They wanted to serve the WEF (World Economic Forum) the WHO, IMF, FED, BIS, ECB, BoE, UN, the Davos elite in destroying the middle class, destroying the West’s economy, devalue the fiat currencies, make USA lose the Reserve Currency status, make the people trained to yield freedom for nothing but more misery. They are out to destroy small business – the goal is to finally have just a handful of mega companies control all industry and commerce. Then you can have Plutocracy, Oligarchy, Corporatism, or what in 1930s Europe we called Fas**m. (The melding of industry and Government into one, The Great Reset, Build Back Better))

Biden now doubles down on this – in a time of vast lack of skilled people in employment he is getting 10% people fired from their jobs, a economic disaster! A trampling on rights and freedom never before seen in the West. How his party Hates those who work for a living. They destroyed the education by shutting it for 18 months, finishing the destruction of education they began by Postmodernism Cultural-Neo-Marxism over the last few decades. They use this chaos to divide the people, make groups ‘Identity Politics’, Intersectionality, and Equity break the nations so they may divide to conquer….

Or so it would seem to me, as the case against lockdown was so absolutely clear, and utterly destructive, and violates all Western Rights and freedoms – so why else would the Politicos have done it?

“The WSJ is far from alone in its selective reporting. TheNew York Times, Guardian, BBC, TheTimes, all cheerleaders for lockdowns, can’t fathom casting doubt on their efficacy.”

As were CNN, CNBC, – almost all the MSM, the Social Media (who shut down ALL which was against the criminal lockdown, and the corrupt ‘Science’), the Tech moguls, Gates, Bezos, Zuckerberg, Dorsey – in FACT THE Super wealthy DOUBLED THEIR WEALTH IN 18 MONTHS!!!! as the West bankrupted its self giving trillions to the most wealthy wile the working people will pay it back by the tax called Inflation.

No, it is more a plandemic than just everyone but Sweden being wrong.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Right Sanford, what would all these people have to gain by imposing lockdowns?
Why would big pharma earn money through restrictions? Have they not earned the same by selling vaccinations to the Swedes as they have other countries with more draconian lockdowns?
What would Biden gain by wrecking the economy, and with it any chance he has of winning the mid term elections?
I’ll admit Covid hasn’t been handled well, lockdowns in most countries were a rather pointless exercise, and a very expensive one to boot, but would it not be a more plausible explanation that it was simple cowardice that caused countries to copy each other once a couple started closing up? Any politician that kept his country open while his neighbours faced restrictions would have been destroyed politically if they had then suffered an above average fatality rate, which I’m more inclined to think is their reasoning for the lockdowns rather than some tin hat deep state conspiracy

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

It’s possible that both Gaelti and Billy have found some truth.

First, that those who stand to gain from weakening individuals’ ability to think clearly and act freely are big pharma and the CCP, amongst a host of other entities run by competing sociopaths with little or no regard for the sanctity of human life or rights. There is a lot evidence that that is true, and little or weak evidence that it is not. Follow the money.

Second, that this group, or competing elements within that group, knowingly made a strategic play or series of strategic plays that would exploit the cowardice, fear, and virtue-signalling shallowness of western political leaderships and mass populations, as well as to pervert the inherent goodness and love that most people possess to some degree or another to turn people against themselves and their neighbours. They clearly have the psychological and technological tools, and the financial resources, to do this; and they clearly have the motivation to do it. Witness the 50 cent army bombarding both wester politicians and ordinary people on social media with messaging designed to make them feel afraid of each other and to make them feel guilty or ashamed of their own actions or inactions, that is guilty of themselves. Witness big pharma (successfully) conning people into a belief that their product is their ticket to freedom, reducing them to dependency on their drugs. Again, by my reckoning there is pretty strong evidence that this is what happened. If someone can point me to evidence that the people running or connected with the CCP and major corporations are not trying to manipulate public and elite political opinion in their favour, and are in fact most disinterested in it, I would be most grateful if you could share it.

Sweden bravely stood alone in Western Europe, refusing to be taken in by the mindgames, the conditioning, the implicit threats, the propaganda, the bribery and the emotional blackmail. Justice and truth will, in the end, prevail.

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Big pharma doing the wrong thing? Oh come on. Politicians taking money under or above the table. Ludicrous. Only and idiot would believe those things. I am one.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

“the 50 cent army”

WUMAO

I have long told against these creatures, even the ones who just use their tactics by stupidity.

The Wumao are political driven disrupters. They post one line comments like ‘LOL, you are right’, or ‘Orange Man Bad’ in great numbers to destroy a chain of posts. Soon any thoughtful post is lost in the sea of babble. Also they cannot be banned as Trolls as usually they just post banalities – Britbart BTL is unreadable because of them – Daily Mail BTL is pointless except as a mood gauge because of them. (another reason they stay with pointless one liners is you cannot tell they are not native speakers as they do not use sentences.)

Hosias Kermode
Hosias Kermode
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Agree. c**k up is always a more likely explanation than conspiracy. It’s not that our leaders are fiendishly clever but that they are no more intelligent than the rest of us. They assume government must be seen to DO something. Most of the time the best course of action is to do sod all.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Hosias Kermode

“. It’s not that our leaders are fiendishly clever but that they are no more intelligent than the rest of us.”

The people behind the scenes are very high IQ indeed. Also politicians, they are very bright – sociopaths mostly, but intelligent – one does not climb that greasy pole otherwise.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

“Right Sanford, what would all these people have to gain by imposing lockdowns?”

If you look at history for the last couple hundred years of Rome the Emperors lasted a short reign – and a gristly death. Toward the end they lasted about a year till death – and for what? They climbed up slaughtering their friends, competition, and armies – knowing it was just to their death, but a chance of ultimate power. – such is the psychopath Narcissist’s desire to hold power over people. The Global Elites are just the same as those.

“Why would big pharma earn money through restrictions?”

First the hysteria of lockdown and project fear had the Governments throwing so many billions at them – they had the research paid for that way – AND got to keep all the vast profits. Project Fear was pure gravy to them, and they rode the gravy train to every station – paying the politicos and lobbyists all the way. Trillions were made by this project fear.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Big pharma benefits from anyone or anything whipping up the hysteria around the (overstated) dangers of Covid. Lockdowns more than anything else drove the fear factor. Big pharma have benefitted hugely from lockdowns.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Luckily, I have a hat lined with aluminium when I’m in the UK and aluminum in the USA.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Good for you Chris, at least you have unaltered brain waves, the problem is the aluminum hat is not much good when the Tyrant’s enforcers hit you over the head with their night stick.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Hard to disagree with anything you’ve said. The whole thing stinks

Antony Hirst
Antony Hirst
2 years ago

Lots of comments about how Sweden failed compared to Scandinavia in general, which is an invalid comparison. Sweden has a high population density in their cities and is subject to a lot of dynamic immigration. Coupled with significant immigrant communities which are not subject to the normal rule of law and do things, more or less how they want to.
All these things Sweden shares with the United Kingdom, not with Scandinavia or the Baltics are large.
And yet Sweden fared better. I think the knowledge gained over that time now suggests natural immunity is king. Looking at data from all over the world, it seems the vaccines have actually accomplished very little.
It looks like Sweden relied on the basics, and it looks like it has worked.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago
Reply to  Antony Hirst

If you are looking for reasons that Sweden did worse than Scandinavia in general, especially in the early days, it’s not at the immigrants where you need to look, except that they tend to have the sort of jobs which cannot be done remotely — people there were more likely to get sick.
The first thing to know is that the dominant variant of covid that circulated in Sweden (early in the year) was a different variant than the one that circulated in most of Europe. Norway got a bit of it as well, as did Latvia, but it wasn’t the dominant variant either place. Apparantly Denmark got some as well but so little that it doesn’t register in the graphs.
see: https://covariants.org/per-country The variant you are looking for is called 20B/S:1122L (It is the bottom one of the list). Was this a worse variant to get? It seems like it was both harder to spread and made you sicker if you got it — because later ones that took over Sweden such as alpha and delta are described as ‘easier to spread and cause milder sickness’ — but how much of the milder sickness is because of changes in the virus vs improvements in how we treat it it hard to measure.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago

(This is split to not be moderated due to length.)
The second thing to look at is the vacation schedule.
background:
The greater Copenhagen area has a population of ~2 million — Denmark as a whole has a population of ~5.8 million. The greater Oslo area has a population of ~1 million — Norway as a whole has ~5.5 million.
Malmö (in SkĂ„ne) is the third largest city in Sweden and the greater area has a population of ~700,000. Göteborg (in VĂ€stra Götaland) is the second largest city in Sweden, and the greater area has a population of ~1 million. Stockholm is Sweden’s capital and the greater Stockholm region has a population of ~2.4 million. Sweden as a whole has a population of ~10.3 million. (source wikipedia). So all 3 places have a concentration of people in a few densely packed cities.

Winter break Copenhagen and Göteborg: 10.2.2020 – 14.2.2020
Winter break Oslo and Malmö : 17.2.2202 – 21.2.2020
Winter break Stockholm: 24.2.2020 – 28.2.2020
When the people of Copenhagen, Göteborg, Oslo and Malmö came back from their winter vacation, they did not arrive home sick, or at any rate they did not immediately head for the hospitals. It was travellers in the last week of February and the first week of March who did so, in all three countries.
But these 2 weeks was an exceptionally low week for travel in Denmark and Norway. About 1% of the population was out of the country — which is low. Because they had just had their vacations.
More than 1 million Swedes were out of the country in those 2 weeks, i.e. more than 10% of the population.
source https://www.thelocal.se/20200611/public-health-agency-head-coronavirus-came-to-sweden-from-countries-that-were-under-our-radar

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago

If you start with 10x as many people, proportionally, out of the country where they could be infected then there is a limit as to what even the hardest of lockdowns can accomplish. Its proponents want to slow things down and delay the spread to save the hospitals, so that they never reach the state that Sweden started with. This is a good example of ‘locking the barn door after the horse has escaped’.
If the big sickening that caused the shutdown of airplane travel had happened 2 weeks earlier, it would have been the Danes in Copenhagen (and the people in Göteborg, Sweden) who were mostly getting sick. If it had happened 2 weeks later, then the Stockholmers would have returned home healthy as the people from Oslo mostly did, and some other country would have been the nation in the newspapers.
But somewhere in the time, the west went from ‘lockdowns to flatten the curve and slow the spread’ to ‘lockdowns, because we need lockdowns’. And I still do not know how that happened.

Last edited 2 years ago by Laura Creighton
Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

The governments saw the levels of compliance……..

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago

Very interesting. But it enforces an overall point: These calculations are far too complex to be dealt with by handwaving. It makes no sense to check whether ‘lockdowns work’. And it is far too easy to cherrypick some argument that ‘proves’ what you wanted to think all along. In either direction.

Lockdowns have one argument in their favour: This is a respiratory virus, that spreads via contact. If you can drastically reduce contacts, it can hardly avoid reducing the spread of the virus. Is there anyone here who does *not* believe that reducing promiscuous sex would reduce the spread of AIDS? That said, it is not obvious what interventions on the complex human tapestry of society will have what effects. Let us wait for some proper research before we jump to conclusions.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Michael Richardson
Michael Richardson
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

To some extent I agree, however the numbers are different.
For instance, suppose the change of passing someone and *not* getting infected is 0.999 (ie, 99,9%). How many people do I have to pass before my chance of not getting infected is 90%; or 50%? 100 and 650 respectively (0.999 ^ 100 = 9,9048).
OK, that is simplistic, they may not be statistically independent events, and so forth, but the principal holds. The change of an individual transmission is small, but you don’t need such a large number before it gets pretty likely that you will get infected.
Of course. it would still take a long time to get AIDS, even with the amount of sex I get[*]
[*] I wish

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Yes, it’s probably too complex to ever fully understand. I think there may never be models that replicate, and explain, what happened in each country, and there may not even be enough nuanced data to feed in. We just don’t know for sure what the best approach is, and it may depend upon the cultures within each country.

Right now I suspect the best you can do is educate about how it spreads, and vaccinate. And this education needs to evolve over time. (I reserve the right to change my mind though.)

I can’t prove this, but I suspect too many people rebel against draconian lockdowns to be effective. And they can’t be sustained for long enough. It may be better to persuade people to choose to take sensible measures

Michael Richardson
Michael Richardson
2 years ago

Another point I have seen suggested is that Norway and Finland are rather like New Zealand, in that they have impermeable borders. In New Zealand’s case it is ocean, in the case of Norway and Finland, it is mountains and other inhospitable places with few crossings.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago

The Finns, who are much saner in this regard than the rest of us, thought ahead and as part of their military preparedness had stockpiles of Protective devices. We destroyed ours — because of peace, you know — and operated on the assumption that if we ever needed more we could just order them. So we ran out. Terrible failure.

Last edited 2 years ago by Laura Creighton
Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

A perfect example of why globalisation and JIT supply chains are the worst things to put our faith in. Local self sufficiency is the way of the future.

Alex Stonor
Alex Stonor
2 years ago

My newspaper: The Vaccine Times (FT, lol), cherry picks its stories to support its vehement support of vaccines. It has stopped talking about Israel, probably because they are on their 4th booster; hmm, doesn’t look good. The reportage uses such emotive language to suggest that dissenters are against care workers & the effective functioning of the NHS, that it nearly made me cancel my subscription.
I’m coming to the conclusion though that widespread support for lockdowns, vaccine passports, closing schools, masks on children & vaccinating the very young etc are also a creation of the media.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex Stonor

that widespread support for lockdowns, vaccine passports, closing schools, masks on children & vaccinating the very young etc are also a creation of the media”

To What End????

Why?

Why did they ALL collude in thes? First move of EVERY tyrant is to control the spread of ideas, news, information……..The second is to disarm the people. Like in Australia, UK, Europe, Canada, and everywhere else but the one nation which still has some freedom – USA, and even then the MSM and Social Media and Education are 95% captured. Naturally disarming the law abiding citizen is Job #1 to the Democrats.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex Stonor

The media. I’d nuke them all if I could.

T Doyle
T Doyle
2 years ago

A brilliant article and one that should be read by every cabinet minister. The BBC is criminal is not covering this.

Rob Britton
Rob Britton
2 years ago

Sweden proved to be the control for the experimental policy of lockdown; how to deal with a pandemic in a calm, controlled manner rather than locking down in a panic causing irreparable societal damage.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago
Reply to  Rob Britton

Not just societal damage but environmental damage too. All that single use disposable PPE, how we like to forget about that whilst we beat our chest for the sake of climate change!

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
2 years ago

Kicked out of Norway on March 14 th 2020, I crossed over to Sweden by train and stayed put there for the next 3 months. I can confirm that foreign newspapers knew how things were running since they had correspondants on site who were reporting utter bollocks. The Handlesblatt Stockholm based Guy was spending more time on his boat than in front of his computer, and was anyway writing what his chief editor was telling him to write. The différence of what one was reading and witnessing was bewildering.
What bugs me however is that Sweden is flogging itself with a special covid commission report, writing how bad covid was handled in the country, looking for people to hang like Anders Tegnell or Mrs Hallengren the health minister. Talk about shooting oneself in the foot. Having said that, I never met the doomsayers one saw on tv and all the Swedes ( many ) I came across were very relaxed.
I kept coming back to Sweden for work and holiday the whole of last winter and it was just about the only place in Europe where one didn’t have to put up with the general world hysteria and one could drink a beer and have a bite to eat in a restaurant.
And in effect, Sweden has much lower numbers than most countries in Europe which angers a lot of people. A friend of mine is a female police officer
..the number of interviews she led for child abuse
..I mean rape
.during the lockdown was baffling.
Good luck to you if you want to point this out in a conversation.
For my part Sweden deserves my gratitude for having extended its hospitality to me when one country was kicking me out and my own wanted to lock me up

no questions asked
..no one forgets this kind of generosity.

Last edited 2 years ago by Bruno Lucy
Mark Burbidge
Mark Burbidge
2 years ago

Can I apply for asylum in Sweden ?
It seemed to me right from the outset that the lockdown idea was wrong in many ways. The sanctimonious bunch who say that this view can only have any validity in hindsight, just dismay me.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Burbidge

You don’t need to apply for asylum to live here. Why don’t you start with a visit?

Richard Lord
Richard Lord
2 years ago

Scientists, modellers and politicians have been tested and found to be lacking. The inquest must focus on the relationships between these groups, how they’re all funded, the use of data and the role of group mentality in the decisions that they’ve taken. Any questioning or alternative views have been jumped upon with no real debate allowed.

Well done Sweden. No more restrictions, no more lockdowns.

Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago

Good discussion, very helpful. Well done everyone.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 years ago

Drawing conclusions from statistics is a very dangerous game! ‘best left to statisticians who should also, in this instance have some level of expertise in epidemiology and virology. A tall order.
I have a some expertise in statistics (none in the other two disciplines) – enough to know I know virtually nothing! Lies, damn lies and statistics does not mean statistics are lies but rather that conclusions drawn from them are so likely to be erroneous as to make the exercise akin to brain surgery in the hands of a dentist! He won’t be completely ignorant: he’ll have just enough expertise to make a complete dog’s dinner of it!

The main enemy of statistics is the problem of variables. In a laboratory it may be posdible to eliminate most variables but in the big wide world this problem becomes insurmountable in all but the most highly expert hands. Even then the presence of uncontrollable variables means the results amount to best guess rather than hard fact. Introducing two or three ‘variables will throw confidence levels off a great deal. With maybe a dozen major variables and a 100 other minor varuables, reduces the exercise to ‘barely’ above “rough guess”. Consider climate, lifestyle, underlying individual health (esp. immunity to God knows how many conditions!), housing, age, genetics, ethnicity etc etc..
You may assume these things are evenly distributed between Sweden, NYC and Florida but hey, how accurate an assumption is that??
Every time you make one more assumption the accuracy of your conclusions falls away. It doesn’t take many assumptions to reduce your conclusions to wild guesswork!

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago

We held up the elderly as being those we need to save from death (yes you read that right) whilst simultaneously destroying domiciliary care and care homes with mandatory vaccines and p!sspoor wages (claps on doorsteps don’t pay bills). No death from covid for old people, instead they can suffer from neglect! That’s much better! What is this current societal wide fear of death! Death is the only guarantee in life! There no guarantee, however, that your passing will be of old age, in your sleep, surrounded by loved ones.

Mark Burbidge
Mark Burbidge
2 years ago

Jonathan Sumption — Unherd Nov 5th ‘
‘In modern conditions, risk-aversion and the fear that goes with it are a standing invitation to authoritarian government. If we hold governments responsible for everything that goes wrong, they will take away our autonomy so that nothing can go wrong.’

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
2 years ago

“Like prohibition, this experiment provoked a debate”. I wish. There was precious little weighing of pros and cons of lockdowns, certainly in the UK. We have had government by statutory instrument. Hundreds of them. The Public Health Act 1984 anticipated a pandemic and required regular parliamentary oversight of, and approval for, radical Executive action. The Coronavirus Act replaced the 1984 Act, precisely, according to Lord Sumption, to avoid parliamentary scrutiny. The public was able to protest, but not debate, the restrictions. And those protesting publicly, such as on the occasion of the murder of Sarah Everard, risked the heavy handed, thuggish behaviour of our police. These are the same police who were so soft touch towards BLM rioters, possibly because they were scared of them but not of the mainly female attendees of the Everard vigil. And these are the same police who are so solicitous towards IB extremists blockading lorries carrying insulation or ambulances trying to rush seriously ill people to hospital. Indeed, XR co-founder Hallam openly stated he’d block an ambulance even if it caused the death of the patient. He and his ilk are terrorists.

Our government is effectively unaccountable. And the police are their muscle. Some democracy.

Josh Woods
Josh Woods
2 years ago

“This fact was shockingly underreported.”
With all due respect, while shocking on the surface, when you dig in deeper it’s all opportunistic grifting. Just do the math.
What gives MSM more views? Locking people up at homes and gluing them to their goddamn TVs and ‘that curve’ praying for their lives and for the supposed ‘good news’ to come. It’s addiction 101- addicted to the illusion of the ‘elusive yet impending good news’, and as long the MSM is providing it they rake all that revenue.
What gives Big Tech more network traffic? Ditto to the stuff above, plus that locking people up inside makes them heavily reliant on social media to connect with others, perhaps more than what is actually healthy. But like what Mark Zuckerberg has said:”What is good for the world is not necessarily good for Facebook”, people going outside, having healthy lifestyles and meeting people face-to-face(physically distanced or not) isn’t what is necessarily as good for Big Tech as nearly total reliance on social media. In other words, just another addiction.
What give Big Pharma more revenue? Persuading the masses that THEIR products are the only magic bullets out of this chaos, which of course was brewed bigger than it actually needs to be so many more can be held hostage(through lockdowns obviously) and be induced with Stockholm Syndrome(ironically the place it was named after didn’t suffer it!), making the crowd more susceptible to their charms. Regardless if you believe in the efficacy of the COVID vaxxes or not (keep other vaxxes OUT of this please), I doubt that they are the only so called ‘magic bullets’ than can resolve this, some of the others out there which may very well cost less, as well as being much accessible and more humane.
And lastly, what gives unscrupulous scientists like Fauci, Collins & Dazsak more air time and cults so they can advance their agendas without any accountability? Yet again ditto with all of the above, along with the MSM & Big Tech building virtual shrines of them and paint them as the only experts at their caliber to speak about COVID(and somehow not those in the front lines they’re heavily censoring and firing), telling us we need more GOF research, more less-thoroughly tested pharmaceutical products, more lockdowns, and of course mandates. Hell, if people are happily running around at parks in the sun and speaking to each other in person, I bet there’ll be far less people listening to Fauci, Collins, Daszak, etc., let alone worshipping them than locking everyone up and let them instil intense paranoia in the masses!
MSM & Big Tech & the rest of the establishment, all of which already proven to be detrimental to humanity long before this, couldn’t have had enough ‘opportunities’ & ‘jusifications’ if it weren’t for something of such a large scale as this pandemic(the degree of severity is a different matter) or events of similar proportions to take over the lives of the rest of us. So again it’s all opportunistic grifting, no surprises!

Last edited 2 years ago by Josh Woods
Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

My recollection is that the UK and Sweden were initially following the same science. Wash hands, minimise contact, shield the elderly and vulnerable, let healthy people gradually acquire immunity. Chris Whitty explained it all very persuasively on LBC, I remember listening in my car and nodding my head. Sweden stuck to their guns (rightly in my mind), but the UK buckled. The pressure to lockdown, in my opinion, came purely from panic, a feeling that we had to keep up with the Joneses and copy everyone else, and I believe, a large dose of political opportunism. The media, the (Remainer) opposition, still smarting from losing the election had found an ideal brickbat. Shut it all down or you’re deliberately murdering old people. That’s Tories for you, they like to kill their core voters apparently. The same people who, just months earlier, celebrated the deaths of old people on their Remainer clock, were now the champions of the elderly. The WHO didn’t seem that concerned at all, they said not to ban travel as it was ‘xenophobic’ in a transparent criticism of Trump stopping flights from China, and the Democrats went around ‘hugging a Chinese’ to comfort them from the orange antichrist’s cruelty. Boris was following the scientific advice when he said you can shake hands but make sure you wash them (that last bit conveniently left out) and he paid dearly but he was DOING WHAT HE WAS ADVISED TO DO.
I remember the full clip. There’s no evidence he caught it that way either but it’s a much more convenient headline for the media. Even later, when it quite obviously went against his own (usually good, libertarian) instincts, he locked down when advised to by the experts. Always reluctantly it seemed to me. I haven’t forgotten how all this unfolded but it amazes me how much the narrative has been rewritten. There is something very sinister about all this and how the global green agenda seems to have been shoehorned in off the back of it. I think Boris has been bought. The Great Reset. The Davos crowd’s vision of the future, where I’m sure they will chow down in the plant based soup kitchens and have the same Lumley carbon rations as the rest of us, obviously only have our best interests at heart. What could go wrong? I give full credit to Sweden for forging their own path and not succumbing to the relentless pressure and accusations.

Jim Davis
Jim Davis
2 years ago

Kudos to those in Sweden who made the decision not to impose draconian restrictions, letting the virus take its course (as all viruses do). The proper response to this would have been to immediately protect those most vulnerable, i.e. the elderly and those with co-morbidities, while letting everyone else, adult and children, acquire the disease or not, and develop natural immunity. You can’t develop large scale natural immunity by purposely preventing the spread of the virus. So the lock downs and masking served only to make the virus last longer, with devastating human and economic results. While common sense and caution flew out the window, those in charge and the main stream media did their best to scare people to death. The statistics (the science) tell a different story. The odds of getting the disease were pretty low, the odds of hospitalization were significantly lower, and the odds of death were well below 1% (and that only due mostly to co-morbidities. The statistics for children are significantly lower than that. Most countries sanely kept their children in school, better for both education and natural immunity, while most of the United States went the other way, resulting in a significant decline in educational achievement for no valid reason. The real experts, the medical people with decades of knowledge and experience from institutions like Harvard, Stanford, etc. consistently said that this approach was exactly wrong. But they were ignored by the politicians and the press. In Sweden fewer people died from the virus in a country without draconian restrictions. In countries with draconian restrictions, imposed more by politicians than scientists, more people died because of the draconian restrictions. It is clear, and has been clear for some time, which was the better choice, in terms of both mortality rates and economic well being, yet the masking, lock downs and mandates continue and those who promoted them, who are actually responsible for millions of deaths worldwide, will never be held accountable. I am also completely amazed that billions of world citizens, as groups and individuals, accepted all of this and complied with little more than a whimper, allowing their countries, and their own lives to be destroyed or severely damaged for no good reason.

earlene xavier
earlene xavier
2 years ago

I think the lockdowns have been a catastrophic disaster on so many levels.I can understand a brief initial lockdown but it rapidly spiraled out of control.
I am old enough to remember getting the Asian Flu in 1957 as a very young child, and I clearly remember the Hong Kong Flu in 1968. Neither pandemic shut down the world, we kept on living our lives, certainly not living in fear.
I have been vaccinated twice and received the booster shot, but we now know how quickly any protection from the vaccine quickly dissipates, clearly natural immunity is best.
If nothing else, hopefully this is a wakeup call to each and every one of us to get as metabolically healthy as possible with a very robust immune system.

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  earlene xavier

Very recent evidence shows that vaccines are several times better than natural immunity, but both wane fairly quickly. You can quite easily get Covid-19 twice, but it’s much less likely after vaccination

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

I just saw Dr Raghib Ali speaking with Freddie Sayer.

I agreed with most of what he said, but was surprised that he was equating natural immunity with vaccination. That does not agree with what I read, and I need to go back to my sources.

I may have tagged them in the Pocket app (which is incredibly useful)

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
2 years ago

Sars Cov-2 transmits by people meeting one another.
In October / November 2020, 6 months in to the pandemic, the message from the UK government was “think carefully about what you are going to do this Christmas” – a very Swedish style suggestion rather than a mandate. People clearly thought very little because cases peaked on the 8th January and more importantly staffed hospital surge capacity was almost but not quite overwhelmed on January 11th. At least initially, it would appear that the majority of Swedish citizens voluntarily followed suggestions, to the letter (working from home, not meeting people etc.)
Inter country comparisons are almost a complete waste of time because of the number of confounders and this applies particularly if you just look at deaths – the only mortality statistic worth looking at is all cause excess mortality and then only at least 6 months after the event because of the reporting delays (particularly in Sweden).
So Sweden :
1. Was short of ICU beds at the begining of the pandemic (278 / 100,000 compared with Germany 575 / 100,000) and so exercised draconian hospital admission policies, initially, hence the mortality in it’s care home sector and in the elderly early on.
2. Restricted / no access to care homes April – July 2020 and after then only with a negative PCR test
3. No in person teaching for 16 + or university students March – September 2020. Children tested at the same rate as adults.
4. Tegnell : “I think the main difference between Sweden and many other countries is that we have had the same kind of restrictions and recommendations in place the whole time. And we have a really big adherence from the population to those recommendations. And that makes a difference, that makes us hopefully less susceptible to a second wave.” – which of course didn’t work out too well
5. From 24th of December:
Only 4 persons can gather at a restaurant; No alcohol sale from 20.00; Maximum number of people at shopping centers, shops & gyms; Use of Face with medical mask during certain hours in public transport; High schools closed until 24th of January; Non essential business (pools, museums) to close until 24th of January; Vaccine is a new & sought after tool against #COVID19
Deputy PM takes over:
“All non essential workers must work from home until 24th of January; Everyone who can work at home must work from home!”
So not exactly a restriction free zone as some people fondly imagine.
Possibly most importantly of all are the social demographics :
40% of households are single person households
Smallest average household size in the OECD (1.99)
Largest age group 25 – 34 years (in 2019)
More than 55% of 16 to 24 year-olds don’t socialise with any close relatives.
Workplaces are typically small in Sweden with approximately 95% of workplaces with 1-9 employees.

stephan.quentin
stephan.quentin
2 years ago

The picture looks a lot less rosy when Sweden is compared to its nordic neigbours, which all imposed lockdowns and other restrictive measures at various times. DenmarkÂŽs case fatality rate has been 1/3 that of Sweden, Finland about 1/5 and Norway, which had by far the most restrictive Corona policies, even less than that. It is important to realize that many factors influence the impact of a pandemic on a society, most of them social. It may therefore be better to compare outcomes in socially similar societies. It is by no means clear that what worked it Sweden (to a degree, see above) would have led to the same outcome in other countries. Especially the UK, with its high rates of poverty, widespread social deprivation and a chronically underfunded health service, is not a good comparison.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Sweden has a completely different demographic to their Nordic neighbours and are more comparable to other parts of Europe. Their citizens travel more frequently. Further their care homes are far bigger and were largely privately owned. There are other differences that I can’t recall offhand.
This is an account of a care home doctor in Sweden which I found instructive – most patients were end of life. https://sebastianrushworth.com/2020/10/28/covid-19-a-swedish-care-home-doctors-perspective/

Josh Woods
Josh Woods
2 years ago

Lesley, you’re on the ball with this! Also population density(which will affect the implementation of physical distancing) is the mammoth(not just an elephant) in the room during this pandemic, and when you factor that in assessing how well countries/regions handled outbreaks, the rankings would almost certainly be very different. And let’s take a different, more pronounced example: Hong Kong has the same population size of the Australian state of New South Wales packed inside a land area 1/12th of Sydney, its state capital whose population density is 40 times LESS than HK’s. Yet HK has done pretty well(arguably better than the Eastern states of Australia) without any lockdowns(except early closures of eateries) for much of this pandemic, though they do have mask mandates. And as Nikolai mentioned below that South Asian population have a higher chance of severe covid outcomes, and HK definitely has a higher population of South Asian alongside East & Southeast Asians than anywhere in Australia or New Zealand. If it was truly mainly restrictions that curbed things dramatically, then HK wouldn’t have done even remotely as well with cases & deaths as it is now!

Nikolai Hegelstad
Nikolai Hegelstad
2 years ago

Also, sweden have many more south asia immigrants compared to norway and denmark. A recent study also found that those of south asian descent has a doubled chance of dying from Covid. This alone would explain a large portion of the difference. For instance, in Oslo, the largest center of outbreak in Norway, Covid deaths was for a long period attributed 62% to the pakistani community with little spread to other groups.

Penny Mcwilliams
Penny Mcwilliams
2 years ago

I am more than happy to look the facts in the face, but I would also argue that it is far too early to tell what other factors may be at work in creating the different mortality rates in different countries, which continue to rise and fall over and over again. This is not yet over, and I can detect exactly the same kind of attribution bias here that has ben so heavily criticised in other political commentators.
Many aspects of culture and practice are very different in Sweden than from the UK, and so far we are not doing at all well. But it is not at all clear that if we had followed the same public policies we would have had the same outcome.
Give it another year at least, and same proper analysis of comparable longitudinal datasets from multiple countries before rushing to any conclusions – and resist that temptation to misuse statistics t support your case

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
2 years ago

No need to give it another year we have natural experiments with varied state policies, including FL as noted by the author. He undersells how well FL exceeded the outcomes of other states on an age adjusted basis. Read my substack article for a better comparison https://purescience.substack.com/p/is-florida-mishandling-covid-19

John Wilkes
John Wilkes
2 years ago

You mention how prohibition enabled organized crime to flourish. The same is true today with narcotics. If these were available from a pharmacy they would a) be much safer due to quality control, b) raise absolutely enormous sums through excise duty, c) hugely reduce he power of organised crime by removing their profits, d) save huge amounts through halving (a guess but probably quite close) the prison population, e) give police the time to investigate other types of crime
Just as prohibition didn’t reduce alcohol consumption, (it merely meant that people drunk a less safe product which funded organised crime) the same is true today for illegal drugs in our modern version of prohibition,

Anita Sorkin
Anita Sorkin
2 years ago

Having followed Sweden throughout it seems to me what is often left out of the conversation is that Sweden employed the long time policies of the agreed upon strategies for a pandemic before they were inexplicably changed very recently. Sweden is often viewed as having done nothing to deal with the spread which is not in the least true.

Peter Morgan
Peter Morgan
2 years ago

Sweden did well compared to the US, but still ranks in the bottom third of most deaths per capita in the world. Canada, for example, had half the deaths of Sweden p/c, and much more regulation. https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality

Last edited 2 years ago by Peter Morgan
Andrew Roman
Andrew Roman
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Morgan

Canada has much lower population density than Sweden. Also it shut down hospitals for almost anything to protect its ICUs for COVID patients, resulting in increased deaths from cancer, heart attacks etc which don’t get counted in the COVID death statistics.

Covid infections in Canada took off later than many other countries so we knew from the experience of others to try to protect the elderly.

Peter Morgan
Peter Morgan
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Roman

Good point, though bringing up density is misleading when we look at how much more land there is in Canada than in Sweden. Comparing populated areas makes sense. My point though is that compared to most of the world, Sweden isn’t that great a success story, or at least in terms of death per capita, it isn’t.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Morgan

I think there is more to consider that death rates; has the cost of lockdown been excessive?

Apparently the cost per additional life saves in the UK has been far higher with covid than usual. Are people most valuable now that a few years ago.

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Morgan

“par capita in the world” ignores known risk factors: age, obseity, population density,. ambient temperature. Why would you do that unless you want a specific answer? The comparisons that are most valid are with northern Europe. More sparse Norway and Finland fared better but Sweden did better than Europe and the group of northern countries from Poland to UK. I know this fact is hard to swallow.

PB Storyman
PB Storyman
2 years ago

Ironically, with debate-worthy evidence like Sweden in front of them, US politicians go on mandating vaccines, masks, and other restrictions. The other topic Americans never hear about (without listening to Joe Rogan or Glenn Beck) is “herd immunity”. The percentage of infected and/or vaccinated that would allow herd immunity constantly crept up until it’s not even discussed as a possibility anymore. Yet, clearly it is very real.
Science and objectivity have taken a beating in the last 1.5 years.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
2 years ago

Why did Sweden implement mass population COVID-19 vaccination?
Why did the world implement mass population COVID-19 vaccination…against a disease it was known from the beginning wasn’t a serious threat to most people?

Tony Lee
Tony Lee
2 years ago

The central point of the argument isn’t really about Covid, it’s about human behaviour. Government in most western countries, thrives on maintaining a sense of fear based on the premise, that without their governance things would only get worse. When in fact, better for all would be less governance, not more. Look at Australia as an extreme example of a government drunk on power over the people, and how that has worked. As Clive James said “The problem with Australia is not that there are too many descendants of convicts, it is that there are too many descendants of prison officers
..”. Sooner or later the people will rebel.

Sarah Atkin
Sarah Atkin
2 years ago

It is a myth that Sweden had no restrictions. They did curtail some liberty. Like many other European countries, their appalling death rate in care homes is nothing to crow about either. Also, there was a strong argument that locking down early, to keep deaths low in a first wave – as Sweden’s neighbours did – gave time for treatments to be developed AND vaccines that save lives later on. Of course, the second and third waves swept through with even more virulence. Then there’s the fact that we have to live with this virus FOR YEARS. Years in a mask – as we are in Scotland? At what point do people in a democracy say – ENOUGH! So…the Swedish ‘model’ was, in hindsight, a more sustainable approach but the UK can’t be compared to Sweden. Lockdown was to protect the NHS from collapse. Thousands of lives could have been saved had we acted swiftly at least imposing some restrictions / control of our borders.
Where Sweden was 100% right (in my opinion) was in keeping early years settings/primary schools open; keeping parks and leisure facilities open so that there would be some semblance of normality for children’s lives and their social /intellectual and physical development. Nothing should be more important to a country than the education of its children. School for under-12s should not have closed. On multiple fronts we’re going to pay a very heavy long term price for this decision.

Last edited 2 years ago by Sarah Atkin
Charles Elliston
Charles Elliston
2 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Atkin

You may find that Swedens death total was lower than its neighbours the previous year and it has been suggested it was playing ‘catch-up’ in 2020 as an additional factor for its poorer showing against its Nordic neighbours. Either way it was still amongst the lower end in Europe. Whether you believe the consequences of locking down has been justified, particularly mandating and creating fear and guilt amongst a population to maintain obedience, is still very much up for debate.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

Is there any reliable data on who died? 1. Age; 2 Diabetes 3; Heart condition, 4, High blood pressure, 5 Obesity, 6 Lung health – asthma, 9 Cancer, 10 What was the likelyhood of death within the next 3, 6 , 9 or 12 months11; are there any substances which can be taken to reduce the impact of Covid ?
How many have died of Covid or is it a contributory factor to death by other illnesses?
It would appear Governments have not produced reliable data on those who have died ?Why?

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Reliable data? One way is to use ONS death data and look at the ‘excess deaths’ line. This is clearly well above average early in the pandemic.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Bell

When Covid first hit Italy deaths were high. They then re-examined death certificates and realised people were certified of dying of Covid because they had it on them but not of it. When they changed definition to only include deaths from Covid, it fell 85%.
It would appear Vit D is beneficial in preventing infection from Covid, as this declines with skin pigmentation and time spent indoors, why is prevention being ignored. Taking Vit D, Zinc, Vit C and Quercetin combined with well ventilated homes may reduce infection from Covid. Virus are small particles. I would gues the number of particles per cubic metre is what is important, especially when breathed in during sleep. Therefore well ventilated homes, not population density would be important. A virus is effective because it enters a cell. Covid reduce ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen and we need 92 to 99% oxygen saturation. Therefore someone who has a high Vit D level, with large lungs compared to body mass, who has light pigmentation of the skin, spends time out of doors in the sun compared and sleeps in a home with low number of viruses per cubic metre in the air to someone with small lungs compared to body mass sleeping in a home with high number viruses per cubic metre of air c with low Vit D levels, is overweight, has Diabetes, heart condition, high skin pigmentation, low aerobic fitness, spends little out of doors and is extensively covered by clothing. Also kissing people when one greets them will spread Covid Is it, that what is vital, is number of viruses which enter lungs, stick to surface and the enter the cells ? We all have an immune system. .Those who die have more Covid viruses entering the lungs and red blood cells than an immune system can defeat.
One of the reasons for slum clearance were that overcrowded, cold and damp homes promoted TB and other lung diseases.
Consequently susceptibility to Covid may be proportional to:-
Age over 80 years + Diabetes+ Low Vit D levels( poor diet and inadequate sunshine ) + Obesity + Heart problems + Lung weakness( small lung capacity compared to body mass) low aerobic fitness)+Low Vit C Levels+ Low Zinc Levels+ particles breathed in during sleep.
Could it be number of particles attaching themselves area of lungs in excess of 1 to 8 hours be important. The immune system may be able to cope with say 1 hour of bombardment but there may be a threshold of x hours over which the immune system cannot cope. Why have sweat shops have spread Covid bit not hair dressers ?
There is no reason governments could not obtain this data and then undertake principal component analysis to determine which factors are the mos timportant to people which would enable resources to be focused on the most vulnerable. If providing Vit D, Vit C, Zinc and Quercetin and perhaps other products keeps people from either getting Covid and or dying, why is this not done? This threshold is likley to be raised with strength of immune system and aerobic fitness.
Relying on natural immunity means people will die so why have not studies been done to boost natural immunity along with developing vaccines. We appear to be in the situation where vaccine boosters may have to be taken every year so why are not studies done to boost natural immunity as well or are there other reasons ?
When common sense suggestion to improve a situation are ridiculed, the peoples immunity to resist conspiracies are greatly reduced. Perhaps if my suggestions had been followed there would not be so many loud anti vaxxers!

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
2 years ago

The stupidity of the UK lock-down was that it was neither harsh enough to prevent spread of the virus nor soft enough to protect the economy.
All sorts of people stayed home etc, but the airports stayed open and, as your article predicts, many simply ignored the rules and met up in private anyway.
The policy was not ‘Stop the virus’, it was ‘save the NHS’. What was hardly noticed is that this policy actually plans for a high level of death – lock-down is implemented to regulate the flow of sick people to hospital.
The absurdity of stopping people sitting alone on the beach, in the park or walking up a mountain while at the same moment allowing a steady flow of people from abroad!
Perhaps by making the lockdown softer in Sweden, people did not feel the need to break it (cf prohibition). They also closed the borders.

stephen archer
stephen archer
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Bell

“Closed the borders”? You must be getting mixed up with Norway or Finland. Sweden has consistently been one of the most open countries in terms of keeping borders open when everyone else was closing them and demanding tests on entry. Except for a short period when Sweden stopped traffic from the UK, the borders have been open with limited requirements for mandatory testing and no need for pre-travel registration.

Charles Elliston
Charles Elliston
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Bell

I think by the time lockdowns were implemented in the UK, the virus was already established within the population. Draconian lockdowns might only delay the spread – and at what cost?

David Simpson
David Simpson
2 years ago

One significant fact that I have not seen anyone refer to in the comments, is that Sweden simply could not impose draconian restrictions because their constitution did not allow them to. That gave their politicians and health scientists breathing room to exercise a degree of pragmatic common sense. In the UK, all BJ et al had was an hysterical mass media and an almost equally hysterical opposition. He couldn’t dare do what I suspect he would have preferred to do, which was to say grow up and calm down, because if he got it wrong they’d have had him and the guvmint for breakfast. Much easier, politically, if not socially, psychologically and not least economically, to go with the flow. Claim the credit if it worked, blame “the science” if it didn’t. Which one of us would have done it different?

Bogman Star
Bogman Star
2 years ago

You’re not comparing like with like:
England, area: 130,279 km sq. England population: 60 million.
Sweden, area: 450,295 km sq. Sweden population: 10 million
While the jury is still out on the Swedish covid approach, we need to remember that there are significant differences between England and Sweden. Compared to England, Sweden has nearly 4 times as much land mass, with about one fifth of the population. Around half of all Swedish households are made up of one person. They have outdoor nursery schools and class sizes around 40% smaller than England’s. Lots of Swedes have summer houses in the North to escape to; and they’re considerably more reserved in public to begin with. They don’t need to form a scrum in order to socialise, and they don’t have a culture of covert admiration for rule-breaking.  
I also note your concerns about “tyranny” lol. Your problem is that you have oppression envy.
The anti-mask, anti-lockdown wingers have one thing in common – none of them have ever known real oppression.
They’ve never had friends or family shot by government forces.
They’ve never had their house wrecked by government forces.
They’ve never been beaten up late at night by government forces.
When they trespass on Capital Hill to further an anti-democratic coup on behalf of a fat orangutan, while committing criminal damage and trying to find folks to hang, they’re reasoned with, let pass, and only one is shot. In a real tyranny, they’d all have been shot, long before they even got close to the building
In short, they know naff all squared about tyranny. They lead comfortable lives.
At some barely-acknowledged level, whether as a result of elite over-production, or because they haven’t grown up, or because they’re thick as mince (or all 3), they have oppression envy.
Masks and lockdowns are their big chance to do some self-indulgent rebelism to give them that anti-authority frisson.
Tyranny tourism for entitled, whiney, first-world navel gazers.

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
2 years ago

Excellent article and to the point. Why isn’t the msm talking about Sweden now?

Antony Goodman
Antony Goodman
2 years ago

Sweden did well compared to much of the world, but not so well compared to their Baltic neighbours.
Why is that? And I mean that as a 2 way question

  1. They did worse – was that because they remained too open compared with their neighbours?
  2. They did better – why did Scandinavia generally do so much better than other Northern hemisphere advanced countries?
Antony Hirst
Antony Hirst
2 years ago
Reply to  Antony Goodman

Because Sweden has a high population density in their cities and is subject to a lot of dynamic immigration. Coupled with significant immigrant communities are not subject to the normal rule of law and do things, more or less how they want to.
All these things Sweden shares with the United Kingdom, not with Scandinavia or the Baltics are large.
And yet Sweden fared better. I think the knowledge gained over that time now suggests natural immunity is king. Looking at data from all over the world, it seems the vaccines have actually accomplished very little.
Sweden relied on the basics, it is worked.

Last edited 2 years ago by Antony Hirst
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Antony Goodman

See my post above.

Zorro Tomorrow
Zorro Tomorrow
2 years ago

Sweden 15,000+ Norway 922, Denmark 2743. Canada pop. 3 x Sweden 29,203. Yes, the economy, yes the schools but unless pandemic II appears, and this time Sweden does lock down and we have new figures it is difficult to make fair comparisons.

Lizzie J
Lizzie J
2 years ago

We know so much more now but so many people are obsessed with mask wearing. I don’t wear a mask in Waitrose, whiz round with my handheld ’till’, avoid other shoppers and am in and out in under 30 minutes with food for 5 days and zero interaction with staff. Meanwhile the mask wearers have no respect for social distancing, chat away with staff, use the staffed checkouts and shop with 3 unmasked children, when we’ve known for months that children are the most likely to be infected.

Niels Georg Bach
Niels Georg Bach
2 years ago

Why don’t he compare Denmark to Sweden. We had far fever dead, and had a faster economic recovery although our lockdown was rather harsh.

Hugh Marcus
Hugh Marcus
2 years ago

Whilst it’s easy as an observer (particularly with the benefit of hindsight) to talk about ‘sinister’ lockdowns, my personal view is that a lot of what happened was down to 3 simpler factors. 1. Groupthink- some politicians have more or less admitted that they were constantly listening to what others were saying & were persuaded in what they were doing was right, simply because everyone else was doing it.
2. Risk aversion- A well known problem in most of the public sector. Because they’re not spending their own money (& unlike a business, where there’s a direct connection between what’s earned & what can be spent), the tendency for many years has been to always do the safest thing – even when the risk doesn’t justify it. Because most public sector employees have never worked anywhere else & because it’s so endemic, they don’t even realise it exists.
3. The media- One of the main reasons I signed up for UnHerd was because I was fed up with headline chasing lightweight stuff in the MSM. Governments are victims of this too. No politician wants to be the one out of step & have a media pile on, simply because they’re saying something different.

Ironically, the same media have largely become mouthpieces for government during Covid. Instead of decent critical journalism holding government to account, we get the media hanging around waiting on the latest snippets from government sources. The end result of this is, the none of them are really critical as their sources will dry up.

Anita Sorkin
Anita Sorkin
2 years ago

Thank you Johan for this article. I hope there will be many more spotlighting the many aspects of how Sweden handled everything and the many outcomes yet to be seen.

James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago

A

Last edited 2 years ago by James Chater
Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago

In March 2020, I thought the UK would be following the same policy as Sweden, but the Boris Johnson lost his nerve (for which I don’t altogether blame him given the vicious criticism so many were keen to express such as at the press conferences, and those daily death figures so triumphantly announced), whereas the Swedes kept theirs.
I suspected that in time, things would even up. I also knew that the UK population is denser in several ways, and more ethnically diverse.

Arild Brock
Arild Brock
2 years ago

RULE BY „PUBLIC SENTIMENT“
In the aftermath of “knowing” there are many questions at stake. To say “we did not know” is not sufficient.
One question would be: By whom lies the burden of evidence? Probably by those who forced a lockdown on all of us. They should now explain on what grounds they acted. They should explain on what grounds such action is generally justified.
Or would a better “first question” be: Who has the right to strike an alarm and on what grounds? Being able to see the worst “worst case” should not suffice.
In my opinion the rise of “public sentiment” should be looked into. “Public sentiment” is a kind of “virtual phenomena” (digital and not digital). Nobody represents “public sentiment” but everybody takes part in it. “Public sentiment” has gotten too much power and politicians follow that instead of leading and taking responsibility. All of us are then sort of relieved from (democratic) responsibility – but of course not from the consequences of our actions and non-actions.
If democracy decays into “rule by public sentiment”, we become less human. 

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago

Sweden also did a lot worse than many countries that locked down. Denmark, for instance. This is complex enough that you can always select a set of data that suits your preferred argument. I still stand by my judgement back then: COVID was new, and nobody knew how dangerous it was going to be. Believing that you understood what was going to happen and knew that no major measures were needed was hubris, dangerous gambling with people’s lives. Even if you win your gamble you are still wrong.

Besides, the comparison with prohibition is rather interesting. What the author is saying is that it was possible to save many, many lives, but that people were never going to put up with the hassle, so that we might as well not bother to try. Apart from being a dandy excuse for anyone who does not, personally, want to be bothered, it is a curiously defeatist attitude, particularly for a Swede.

Andrea X
Andrea X
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Perhaps, but Sweden was supposed to be just one big graveyard. Why isn’t it?
It is also true that at the outset people didn’t know (I wonder if they do now), but has been learned from this experience?
It is telling, though, that Sweden has, to all intents and purposes, fallen off the face of the earth.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrea X
James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I disagree. You are correct to focus on the beginning, when no one knew what would happen, so let’s compare to AIDS. In the beginning, no one knew how it could be transmitted, and there was no distinction between being HIV+ and having AIDS. In the air? Kissing? Shaking hands? Toilet seats? All of these modes of transmission were seriously considered in the beginning–how quickly we forget.
I was in law school then. The feeling was that the US (and the world) would NEVER permit a multi-tiered society where one had to show random people your “status.” The idea of “health passports” was considered and rejected on these grounds.The entire faculty–very left–was insistent on retaining freedoms: we would never submit to this government control.
Fast forward to now. The entire media, uni, government, most very left, have exactly the opposite approach: PLEASE take my freedoms, tell me what to do, show me a way to be a sheep. I want and insist to show my health status to random people (“control” people at the mall, hotel, restaurant, salon), so they can see how virtuous I am.
The inconceivable has become the inevitable.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

believing that you understood what was going to happen and knew that no major measures were needed was hubris, dangerous gambling with people’s lives.

Sorry just no. That is also what lockdowns were weren’t they? It was gambling the less tangible impact (future deaths from poverty, depression etc) against the also unknown but far more present threat of covid.
Both were gambles, and Sweden chose black in a world of betting on red.
And they quite simply were right to. They have not had worse deaths than many countries from covid and will now have none of the long term negative effects of lockdowns.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Well, when there is not enough information you do what you can. But the Swedes were not making the case against lockdowns by citing their fears about long-term depression and possible additional suicides in the distant future – probably because they would have been laughed out of office if they had. They made their case that they understood what was happening and they knew that lockdown would not save any lives. And they knew no such thing.

Personally I would act against the immediate threat of deaths, and take my chances on the long-term effects of economic malaise. I doubt anyone would seriously prefer immediate deaths to keep the economy growing – how many deaths would you sacrifice for an additional 1% growth i GDP? – but it is a handy excuse for those who are just not willing to sacrifice any individual freedom of movement to a common good.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

See what you’re saying – but the decisions were based upon a belief that lockdowns are not effective (regardless of the implicit economic devastation they cause) according to their own modelling.
On that count, again, they were correct. There is no correlation between the strictness of lockdowns and covid rates. Anywhere.
How is that any more of a gamble than lockdowns?
I repeat both were gambles, even if we assume both were based on an inadequate amount of evidence. How can you criticise Sweden for gambling but getting it right versus gambling and getting it wrong? Your position makes no sense.

Last edited 2 years ago by A Spetzari
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

There is a correlation. China. Lockdowns can be very effective indeed – as elementary logic should indicate. For the rest I still think it makes sense when you do not know enough to choose the action that tries to save lives over the action that simply gives up and lets people die. Do you disagree? That said, Sweden did do quite a bit to reduce interpersonal contacts, which (being Swedish) could be done by simple exhortation without a formal lockdown. Sweden is nowhere near the temple for untrammelled individual freedoms that the anti-lockdown fetishists sometimes imply.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Temporary correlation.

Michael Richardson
Michael Richardson
2 years ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Indeed. Anders Tegnell said early on that one would have to wait years before one could truly judge. I think history is proving him right, though.
Also, the WHO advice on epidemics was that lockdowns were counterproductive, except in limited circumstances (eg., NZ where the borders are closed before the infection arrives).
My speculation (and it is speculation) is that China panicked when they realised that they might (not did, might) have created and released an airborne AIDS, the WHO was unduly influenced, and most of the rest of the world fell into line.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

 choose the action that tries to save lives over the action that simply gives up and lets people die

But that’s not the choice if you don’t think that lockdowns will work. So it’s not a simple case of save lives/let people die is it?
As I say, your position makes no sense, especially since even with hindsight it is wrong.

China is neither a trustworthy nor sensible comparison, not least because it is one country among many. As I said, the correlation doesn’t support lockdowns. Cherry-picking one enormous totalitarian country that is not remotely comparable to Sweden isn’t a correlation.

Adam Bacon
Adam Bacon
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Elementary logic indicated that bed rest was the obvious, effective management for post surgical and post heart attack patients for decades, until evidence based medical research conclusively disproved it.

That is the seductive thing about lockdowns, they appear to be elementary logic. Difficult to conduct research, but the data shows internationally that those countries with the most stringent lockdowns fared no better than those with the least.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

“Anti-lockdown fetishists”? Do you mean humanitarians fighting a brave fight against for the spirit and power of the individual human against communist lies, propaganda, and mind-control? To suggest that lockdowns are safe and effective in the face of horrendous evidence to the contrary is nothing less than an insult to the millions whose lives have been upended – some of them curtailed – by this maliciously evil practice, that was unknown to liberal democracy and not countenanced in pandemic planning before Xi and his corrupt cronies levered it in to our consciousness and discourse. It’s clear to me that our politics and our societies have been deliberately imbalanced and then attacked by external forces, and we all need to wake up to that ghastly reality – and start to do something about it.

The CCP should know this: you may think that you’re winning, but you’re not. Your power is ephemeral, your lies will be exposed to be as meaningless and as fragile as your shallow ideology of fear and repression, and you won’t achieve your transhumanist dreams of near-immortality and masterly over our green earth. For all your strategic acumen and patient plotting and for all your military technology and artificial intelligence, you have under-estimated the power of the human. You can try and beat us, you can try and manipulate or threaten us, and you may even kill some of us, but we will keep coming and we will not let you win.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

I mean people like you, judging by your post.

stephen archer
stephen archer
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

“But the Swedes were not making the case against lockdowns by citing their fears about long-term depression and possible additional suicides in the distant future” Sorry, that’s not correct. Anders Tegnell has been openly adopting and following the big picture of public health in his many press briefings, both general health and specifically the mental health of adults and children. Johan Giesecke repeated the same in his interviews. Maybe others weren’t listening, didn’t think it was important at the time or just didn’t wanted to hear what his experience told him.

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
2 years ago
Reply to  stephen archer

People who didn’t want to listen didn’t. People who didn’t want to see didn’t. Takes an open mind to open eyes and ears.

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The lies, fear mongering and hypocrisy was there to see from the very start of the pandemic. You only had to open your mind.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Rasmus is still beating his drum, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
The Swedes certainly made the argument from the get go that they wanted to be judged 2 years later. And sorry let us be blunt, it was evident to anyone with a brain that lockdowns would cause harms.

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

This is complex enough that you can always select a set of data that suits your preferred argument.”
Quite so. It will probably be years before the data is properly analysed. People can reasonably argue about the politics of Lockdown vs No Lockdown, but only a retrospective scientific analysis can tease out the various factors on which to make a political value judgement. Degree of urbanisation, intensity of sunlight, demographic composition of population, prevalence of morbidity factors, and many more, all have an effect.
You can argue that ‘only’ 15,024 people have died in Sweden compared to the 141,805 in the UK… but this ignores the population size, and the prevalence of longer term health issues. Adjusted for population the numbers are 1,475 vs 2,074 per million. Close enough for other factors, besides official lockdown vs community lockdown, to have an effect.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

official lockdown vs community lockdown,

Excellent way of putting it.

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

You write with great sense.

Hosias Kermode
Hosias Kermode
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I disagree. We knew pretty early on from the stories coming out of China and then Italy that this was not the Black Death. It was serious. But young people were recovering. Old people with co-morbidities were the ones who died. And sadly, in the UK at least, BAME people seemed to be at disproportionate risk. I’d say we knew all that by May last year. My solution was to stock up on Vitamin D, get out in the sun all I could, eat well and exercise, carrying on as far as possible as if the Lockdowns didn’t exist.

Michael Richardson
Michael Richardson
2 years ago
Reply to  Hosias Kermode

Very early on I passed a guy and his teenage son in Tesco’s, and the son was saying “It’s not like it is the Black Death, is it!”.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

See my post above on the Nordic neighbours.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago

On that topic I will listen to Laura Creighton or Elaine Giedrys-Leeper. Not to you – mainly because you are too ideologically committed to anti-lockdown for your version of the facts to be trusted.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

By ideologically committed I must presume you mean logical, morally superior and proven correct.
I do know you are one of the many lockdown enthusiasts who continues to have food on the table and money in the bank.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lesley van Reenen
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago

What can I say? I happen to believe I am right and you are wrong, which should suggest that I am at least open to argument. If you are convinced that you are morally superior and proven correct and I am morally inferior and proven wrong, it suggests to me that you are too far into dogma for any facts you present to be trustworthy.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Cut to the chase in order to resolve the moral superiority argument iro lockdowns
 do you have food on the table and money in the bank? I haven’t yet met one person who is pro lockdowns who has no money and food. And I’m not holding my breath.
Lockdowns are evil and supporting them shows a staggering lack of empathy, logic and imagination.

stephen archer
stephen archer
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Well, it’s time to get your vaccine pass out again. Mette has spoken.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Leadership should only be given to those who have gambled their lives so when they are in command they have the authority to gamble with other peoples lives. Every ships captain gambled with lives, every leader who sent people into combat gambled with peoples lives, every leader in the fire fighters and bomb disposal units gambled with lives. Going to sea or working in a mine is a gamble.
Thne problem we have now in the West are that there are no leaders who gambled their lives in their early career so have no authority to gamble other peoples lives.