X Close

Labour MP: UK should have followed Sweden on Covid

Graham Stringer speaking in the Commons today

April 18, 2024 - 7:00pm

A Labour MP has praised Sweden’s Covid-19 pandemic response, saying that Britain should have looked to the Nordic country as it “came out the best of the countries in Europe in terms of deaths”.

Graham Stringer MP made the comments during a debate in the House of Commons this afternoon on the UK’s pandemic response and trends in excess deaths.

The 74-year-old, who has been the MP for Blackley and Broughton since 1997, criticised the Government’s management of the pandemic, which he labelled “irrational”. He compared the UK’s response to Sweden’s, which only restricted personal freedoms in a “moderate way”.

Stringer is also chair of the all-party group on “examining the impact of the Government’s pandemic policy”, which he says has shown him that “science and politics make very uneasy bedfellows”.

He then suggested that, instead of a nationwide lockdown, the Government should only have locked down the vulnerable, including the elderly and those with existing medical conditions, stating that “the science wasn’t followed”.

Stringer went on to criticise “the mainstream media”, which he claimed did not hold the Government to account during the pandemic. He added that it was “uncritical of what was happening”, singling out the BBC which he says “was not asking the difficult questions”.

During the pandemic, Stringer was the only Labour MP to vote against implementing a stricter lockdown in the North West, and has previously claimed that lockdowns may have been worse than Covid itself.

The Government’s Covid-19 inquiry, according to Stringer, showed an “extraordinary bias towards believing in lockdowns” and he expressed his belief that he didn’t think it was the correct body to prepare society for the next pandemic.

The inquiry involves looking into the Government’s own response and the effectiveness of lockdown measures. In March, a group of scientists signed a letter to the inquiry chairman, Baroness Hallett, suggesting that the inquiry was “fundamentally biased” and was failing to examine the full scope of lockdown.


is UnHerd’s Editorial Trainee.

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

86 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tom D
Tom D
1 month ago

The population density of Sweden’s major cities is one-quarter that of Britain’s, a fact easy to verify. Population density has a major impact on viral transmission rates. Consequently a direct comparison of the two countries as a whole is nonsensical. It might make sense to pick some British cities with lower densities for carefully considered comparisons, though.

Tom D
Tom D
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom D

Another point: Germany and the Netherlands both had a lower Covid death rate per thousand than did Sweden, and the Netherlands did even with a higher population density than Britain (hopefully the Dutch numbers are not skewed by euthanasia).
There are better trees to bark up than Sweden.

Neil Turrell
Neil Turrell
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom D

The key statistic to look at are the levels of excess mortality over, say, the last few years. I think you’ll find that Sweden comes out very well. Moreover, I would make a guess that Sweden has a much lower rate of economically inactive citizens than we enjoy and, in all probability, a much higher rate of achievement amongst its students as well as a much lower rate of mental health issues in the same cohort – all arising from an enlightened policy of allowing students to attend school as normal, while we locked them up at home and/or covered their faces with useless masks. Stringer is a very rare bird indeed; one who voted against the both ruinous CCA and the equally ruinous Pandemic strategy.

Tom D
Tom D
1 month ago
Reply to  Neil Turrell

“The key statistic to look at are the levels of excess mortality over, say, the last few years. I think you’ll find that Sweden comes out very well.”
OK, but that can still be due to the population density fact I pointed out.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 month ago
Reply to  Neil Turrell

The key statistics to look at are the economic and education ones. The excess death statistics were already baked in via the pre-existing general health and age profile of the population and the spare capacity in the healthcare system.

Tom D
Tom D
1 month ago

Not true. There are dozens of Years of Life Lost studies that prove otherwise.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom D

I think this is fair. Many factors have to be considered, such as age, population density, income levels etc…We also need to look at things like excess deaths. I would hope by now that most people can see the devastating impact of lockdowns and the absurdity of forcing young, healthy people to get vaccinated.

Tom D
Tom D
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

“…the absurdity of forcing young, healthy people to get vaccinated.”
But before Covid, no one ever thought that herd immunity could be attained by excluding large cohorts from vaccination. Perhaps that might change, but that’s not how people thought prior to Covid. Changing that during Covid would have been innovative. P.S. I’m not being critical here, just trying to explain.
Also, what’s the definition of young? As a percentage of all deaths by age cohort, the statistical uptick for Covid began at age 45. Yes, fewer people aged 45-55 died of Covid, but fewer people of that cohort died in total of all causes, so the percentage was the same as for older cohorts. It’s odd people don’t see that.

Gerard A
Gerard A
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom D

You seem to be assuming that there are vaccines against Covid that as in the case of polio, smallpox etc, prevent infection and transmission and so help to eliminate the disease.
What we actually have, given their failure to prevent infection and transmission, are injected symptom suppressants.
These may well save the lives of the vulnerable but are completely pointless when administered to the healthy.

Tom D
Tom D
1 month ago
Reply to  Gerard A

I don’t need to assume any of that.
1) Your objection still denies the classic definition of herd immunity, the definition in effect in 2020 among medical practitioners. I’m not saying you are wrong, perhaps the definition of herd immunity can and should be changed. We all need to recognize that this objection is a radical innovation.
2) The polio and smallpox vaccines wear off too, just not as fast as any coronavirus vaccine would. Janet Parker, the last person to die of smallpox, had been vaccinated just 12 years earlier. A fully vaccinated population will still have a CFR from smallpox of 2%. ‘Lasting’ is not what many people think.
3) No, the Covid vaccines did not prevent transmission, but studies claimed they reduced transmission by at least half. This is a case of a good discounted because it is not the best.
4) The statistic I just quoted regarding the age 45 cohort predated the introduction of the Covid vaccines.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
1 month ago
Reply to  Gerard A

Spot on. But there’s more to it as has now been revealed by a detailed analysis from Japan which showed that a clear temporal relationship between the 3 dose and subsequent boosters and the rate of aggressive cancers. And this is likely due to complete substitution of uridine by pseudouridine which results in immune suppression.

The fundamental issue with the vaccines (whether mRNA or DNA-based) was simply human arrogance. The powers that be, including the Fauci’s, Colllins’ and Farrar’s, and the 3 letter agencies (NIH, CDC and FDA) were so convinced of the mRNA technology that they refused to consider any possibility of adverse events. The vaccine was supposed to remain in the deltoid yet it found its way into every organ of the human body. The vaccine was supposed to have a half-life of at most a couple of days, yet the mRNA could be easily detected out to 6 months. The rational for replacing uridine (one of the mRNA bases) by pseudo-uridine was entirely bogus given the use of lipid nanoparticles as a delivery agent. The idea was that pseudouridine suppresses the immune response (which it does) and therefore ensures that the mRNA is not rapidly degraded. But that’s only relevant if one were to inject naked mRNA. But once the mRNA is encapsulated in a lipid nanoparticle it is no longer exposed to the immune system. Likewise, once the mRNA is delivered inside a cell it is no longer exposed to the immune system.

And the mandates were completely unethical given that the vaccines failed to prevent either infection or transmission. i.e. they provided no benefit to 3rd parties. Sure they may have offered partial protection to the vaccinee (although if they did that was very short lived) but that should then have been a personal choice. If one was young and health the vaccines were of absolutely no use and the risks vastly outweighed any possible benefits. If one was old and infirm, the reverse may have been true, although even that is uncertain.

Tom D
Tom D
1 month ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

I don’t understand your (or the Japanese) hypothesis about pseudouridine. The human body creates it. I would bet that a decade – I’m being conservative here – of life exposes each of us to more pseudouridine than any vaccine does. If the hypothesis that pseudouridine is carcinogenic were true most of us should have advanced cancers by age 30.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom D

We know that Pfizer didn’t even test for transmission. The vaccines were never intended to create herd immunity.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

As far as I am aware, it is taken for granted that any vaccine that works will reduce the number of illnesses, reduce the damage from illness, and reduce transmission – just to varying degrees. I have never heard of anyone specifically testing vaccines for these three factors separately. Have you? Certainly not when you are in a race against time to get vaccines into arms at record-breaking speeds before it is too late. So if Pfizer did not test separately for effect on transmission it does not mean that the vaccines were not intended to create herd immunity, just that everybody made the natural assumption that helping the body fight infection better would help on all three fronts. Anyway, my understanding is that the vaccines do help on all three fronts, just not well enough or for long enough to be able to smother an epidemic.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
1 month ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

It depends on how effective a vaccine is (i.e. whether it produces a neutralizing response) and on the mode of transmission. with regard to any vaccine for viral influenza-like illnesses, the results will always be very poor because the relevant immunity to combat such viral infections is mucosal immunity and not humoral immunity. Injecting mrNA into one’s deltoid produces humoral immunity and therefore does not impact susceptibility to infection or any disease that is localized to the upper respiratory tract. It is only potentially useful when the infection becomes systemic. But covid-19 is not systemic. The systemic effects that were seen occured way after the virus was long killed off, and were due to inappropriate, overactive immune responses (such as the cytokine storm) which could readily be dealt with by early administration of steroids (oral prednisone, for example, taken a couple of days after the initial onset of symptoms worked just as well as iv dexamethasone).

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 month ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

“if Pfizer did not test separately for effect on transmission it does not mean that the vaccines were not intended to create herd immunity, just that everybody made the natural assumption…”.
Everybody did NOT make the assumption. They were TOLD by the public health authorities (Fauci et al) that the jabs prevented transmission and that anybody who refused the jab was a granny-killer. Hence the draconian and utterly useless vaccine mandates, which led to thousands losing their jobs and being ostracised by friends and family who mostly succumbed to the mass psychosis.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Traditional vaccines for smallpox, rubella etc do prevent the transmission of disease. The flu shot we get every year, and the Covid shot too, no so much. IDK know why they call either of them vaccines. They offer some degree of personal protection if you do get infected, but they don’t stop the spread in any meaningful way. They might stop the spread to a certain degree, but they don’t create herd immunity like we were endlessly told.

Again, vaccines good. Mandates bad.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You’re probably not reading this any more, but:
A drug is something that interferes directly with a disease or malfunction while it is in the blood stream. A vaccine is something that primes the immune system to be ready to fight a particular disease, long after the vaccine itself has been cleared from the body. COVID and flu vaccines are clearly vaccines, by that logic – though unfortunately, they do not work as well as smallpox or polio vaccines do. Refusing to call them vaccines is logically like saying that a car with an engine fault is no longer a car – because cars move fast and this one does not. It is the same kind of language manipulation that we normally get from the woke left (‘woman’, ‘racism’, ‘enslaved person’, ‘microaggression’ …). Instead of arguing the actual facts you insist on using loaded words, so that it is taken for granted that the things you like can only be good adn the things you dislike can only be bad.

Tom D
Tom D
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

“Many factors have to be considered…”
Yes! Exactly! A thumbs up from me!

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

‘Absurdity’ assumes at the point decisions needed to be made more information was available. Of course it wasn’t. Decisions in the real world often have to be made with limited information and require a best judgment.
As it is there is no evidence of some significant young person population health deterioration due to the vaccine. Anecdotes do not suffice.
What there is is alot of legit concern about impact of closing schools and reduced three dimensional interaction, esp on kids from poorer families. We must better reflect on this and what we could have done better. But here we are today reading headlines about kids age 7 having Smart phones and access to social media and we are doing nothing. That adverse impact the evidence suggests much greater over the last decade and more. If we are really concerned about our children we can act on this now.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom D

Oh Lordy Lordy are we going to go into this rubbish argument again? Look. We did it to death in 2020 and 2021 and we were proved right.

Tom D
Tom D
1 month ago

Which argument? I’m not particularly pro-lockdown. Questioning Sweden, especially in light of the apparently better German and Dutch numbers? I don’t think that’s rubbish at all.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom D

The German and Dutch numbers weren’t “better”. Covid deaths can’t be looked at in isolation. For a start countries didn’t count Covid deaths in the same way. Excess all-cause mortality is more relevant. Not to mention mental health, disruption to education and broader healthcare, economic wellbeing, and government indebtedness.

Tom D
Tom D
1 month ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

“Covid deaths can’t be looked at in isolation.”
Correct!
“For a start countries didn’t count Covid deaths in the same way.”
Correct! Data has to be ‘renormalized.’ Do we know for sure Sweden still looks better after that is done? I don’t know.
“Excess all-cause mortality is more relevant.”
It’s relevant. I don’t think more so.
“Not to mention mental health…”
Now that’s another peeve of mine. Mental health always declines in epidemics and pandemics, and suicides increase, we have 2,000 years of records that tell us so. It takes a lot of analysis to tell us that the Covid lockdowns and such was a greater problem than the disease itself. To my knowledge such analysis has yet to be done. I’m not making any assumptions either way.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom D

I have read the exchanges between you and other posters and you have made very fair points. The problem is that instead of a reasonably dispassionate examination of the statistics covering the range of side effects of covid in proper context there has simply been too much argument to justify the line taken or assume it was the scientifically correct approach. Too many reputations to be protected.

Tom D
Tom D
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Sure, I don’t dispute that. But most of the decisions (perhaps apart from some features of the mRNA vaccines) were scientifically correct as of 2020. For example, I recall widespread support for lockdowns in 1990s articles on the Spanish Flu, the idea didn’t come out of nowhere. Are we going to find out that some were wrong? I would bet we will. Will science advance? Yes. I also think that ‘a reasonably dispassionate examination of the statistics covering the range of side effects of covid in proper context’ is years away. We, all of us, need to keep an open mind.
One thing that has struck me is that the Covid mortality seems to have turned out to be at a level that allowed for conflicting interpretations. A major concern of mine is that the next one will be worse but people will use the Covid template and try to make it fit.

Tom D
Tom D
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom D

PS. I would like to propose that the West develop the means to get monoclonal / polyclonal antibody therapies into the healthcare system when the next one hits. A serious study should be done to see how fast this could be done versus vaccines. The administration costs would be more than vaccines would be, but if they could be delivered months faster than vaccines (my guess, the testing should go much faster) then the disease burden costs to society would be lower. Perhaps the Inquiry should be asked to look into that idea.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom D

Indeed – much like the medical establishment (read: Tegnell and friends) took it for granted that the pandemic plans they had worked out for flu would necessarily be the right ones against a different disease.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom D

165 million slipped into $2 a day poverty starting in 2020. Since 1998, extreme poverty was reduced each and every single year. That all ended in 2020. You have to be willfully blind to not recognize the harms from lockdowns in 2024.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I do recognise the harms. But what alternative are we comparing with? What are you assuming would have happened without lockdowns, vaccine mandates, etc.? You cannot (even by implication) compare the effects of lockdown with the effect of COVID never having appeared.

Tom D
Tom D
1 month ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I think the comparison can be made. But I don’t think it can be made simplistically.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Without lockdowns, supply chains would not have been crushed, the economy would not be reeling like it is today. You can almost draw a straight line from govt spending during Covid to inflation and high interest rates today.

It’s fair to say Covid would harm the economy and mental health regardless. However, the disease was only truly dangerous to unhealthy and the very elderly – people who were not participating in the economy before the pandemic.

We should have done our best to protect the people who were most vulnerable and carried on business as usual. The lockdowns were so leaky anyway that I’m not sure they protected anyone, other than those who were privileged enough to work from home and those who could afford to truly cut themselves off from the outside world.

Tom D
Tom D
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

“However, the disease was only truly dangerous to unhealthy and the very elderly – people who were not participating in the economy before the pandemic.”
Now that is just not true. In the U.S. as of September 2023, 24% of Covid deaths were aged 64 and under.
New York City lost over 100 first responders to Covid, many of whom did not have sedentary desk jobs; one was a parachute certified medic in the National Guard. This story can be repeated all over the world.
And the word ‘truly’ excludes Long Covid, which will also have an economic impact over the coming years, aside from the human suffering it will entail. IMO Long Covid is going to prove to be worse than polio in that regard.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 month ago

No.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
1 month ago

In December 2021 MPs have voted by 385 to 100 to impose a Covid vaccine mandate for NHS workers. Just 22 members of the Labour Party – the Labour Party – voted against. At the same time, Wes Streeting offered to whip Labour MPs into helping the government ram through yet another ruinous and useless national lockdown into law against the opposition of Tory backbenchers. 80,000 unvaccinated NHS staff in England were informed that if they didn’t get jabbed within a week they could lose their jobs. The Labour Party voted to let that happen. And shortly they will be rewarded by a landslide election victory.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 month ago

Graham Stringer is one of those rare independent minded MPs with a science background that can be relied on not to just unthinkingly follow the prevailing zeitgeist. The sort of MP we are desperately short of. He not only takes a sensible approach to covid but an independent line on Climate hysteria.

John Galt Was Correct
John Galt Was Correct
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Richard Lees, the then leader of Manchester City Council had the same opinion about lockdown. They were both vilified for it along with Andy Burnham when he pointed out that Greater Manchester was being put back into a level of lockdown without the payments previously enjoyed by the entire country. It turned out that evidence in the covid enquiry showed that the government believed that ‘Greater Manchester should take a punishment beating’ for taking a stand.

Robbie K
Robbie K
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

There is nothing sensible about these suggestions at all. The UK is not Sweden regardless of anything else, but the claim that less people died is ‘magical thinking’, since as we know tens of thousands of people needlessly lost their lives because of the Swedish fanciful approach.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 month ago
Reply to  Robbie K

That’s a bunch of crap.

It is interesting, of course, that a climate change zealot also approves of another colossally baseless, wasteful, junk-science statist extravagance in the form of the pandemic.

You’re looking forward to climate lockdowns, aren’t you?

William Shaw
William Shaw
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

“Comparing the responses of the UK, Sweden and Denmark to COVID-19 using counterfactual modelling”

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-95699-9

“UK mortality would have approximately doubled had Swedish policy been adopted, while Swedish mortality would have more than halved had Sweden adopted UK or Danish strategies.”

Nick Wade
Nick Wade
1 month ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Yeah, cos all that Covid modelling was so accurate, wasn’t it? It’s not even science, given that science is supposed to be based on evidence.

William Shaw
William Shaw
1 month ago
Reply to  Nick Wade

Science is based on conjecture and theory… and validated by experimental data.

William Shaw
William Shaw
1 month ago
Reply to  William Shaw

The fact that someone downvoted a definition is a sad example of how negative emotion and animosity has degraded intellectual debate.

Arthur King
Arthur King
1 month ago

I’m seeing lots of damage done to Gen Z kids.

Robbie K
Robbie K
1 month ago
Reply to  Arthur King

By what? And how do you know?

Kristoffer Laurson
Kristoffer Laurson
1 month ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Lockdowns have damaged health and caused mental illness to a degree not seen in modern history. The data is clear and visible to anyone willing to consider that the right path wasnt taken.

Robbie K
Robbie K
1 month ago

What was the ‘right path’? No one seems to know…

Claire D
Claire D
1 month ago
Reply to  Robbie K

He just said.
The Swedish model.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 month ago
Reply to  Robbie K

The right path was the plan for dealing with a respiratory disease pandemic that had been officially-accepted policy for some time prior to 2020, was thrown out in a political panic in March 2020, and which is now revealed by the facts to have been the correct path all along.

Claire D
Claire D
1 month ago
Reply to  Robbie K

By a sharp rise in mental health statistics in young people / CAMS applications since lockdown..

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
1 month ago

Listen to the speech. In Australia, where they rolled out vaccines before the pandemic hit, emergency calls to the ambulance service in Queensland went up 40% ‘inexplicably ‘.

Well it wasn’t Covid; so what caused all those sudden heart attacks and respiratory problems?

The state Premier said he didn’t know but, well, ‘these things happen’.

Pfizer’s later contracts with countries like Brazil state in the contract itself that the vaccines don’t stop transmission and there is no safety data about adverse events.

But they still gave it to the population anyway.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Where’s the data on all these additional heart attacks etc?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

The MP’s during yesterdays (Thursday 18 April 2024) debate – ‘Covid-19: Response and Excess Deaths Volume 748’ reference the data. You can read the published transcript of the debate on Hansard.

harry storm
harry storm
1 month ago

Shoulda woulda coulda.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago

Have a good number of Swedish friends and it’s interesting listening to their perspective on all this. Essentially whilst not legislated Swedes acted as if it was a lockdown through choice. Not scientific of course but my Swedish friends articulated Swedes more naturally reserved and that this helped. V different population density helped too. So the issue may be less whether the degree of separation and reduced mixing needed, and more whether to get that result it required enforcement.
Whether the judgment in the UK was we would not act like Swedes without the Law insisting unclear, and certainly for LD1 one can be sympathetic for politicians having to make such rapid decisions with v limited information.
Nonetheless essential the Public Inquiry considers and distils the lessons for us. Next time things may be different.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

You also have to consider what the general health of the population was like going into the pandemic. I’m not familiar with rates of things like obesity in Sweden, but the UK is in pretty bad shape and that makes the population more vulnerable to disease and ill health generally.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

So the issue may be less whether the degree of separation and reduced mixing needed, and more whether to get that result it required enforcement.

Exactly!

Tom D
Tom D
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

“Essentially whilst not legislated Swedes acted as if it was a lockdown through choice.”
This is exactly the situation described to me by friends in Florida. So many elderly people in Florida are fairly well-to-do and got that way by higher education. One friend (a retired scientist from Brookhaven National Lab) told me that of the hundreds living in his retirement community only one couple decided to not self-isolate. That couple died. No one else did. Everyone attributes the lower Florida mortality numbers to the policies of Ron DeSantis, but it is more likely that ‘lockdown by choice’ was the cause.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom D

If all but one couple were self-isolating, who were that couple mixing with?

Tom D
Tom D
1 month ago

With whoever they felt like outside the community. I’ve seen the place on Google Earth, it is all single family houses. It was easy for the residents to stay home, have food and medicine delivered, and keep in touch with each other via electronics and backyard distancing. One couple ignored the evidence, continued their active lifestyle with dining and theatre and the like, and paid the ultimate price.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom D

So basically, well off, self isolating parasites were expected other people to grow, produce and deliver food for them.
I knew people like these in uk.
There are no longer my friends.

Tom D
Tom D
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew F

Looks like you did your friends a favor.
If you are not a farmer you are a hypocrite, sir.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

Exactly. Many lockdown sceptics like to claim that Sweden didn’t have lockdown. It did. The Government did not have the legal powers to impose many lockdown measures but municipalities did – and used them. Something overlooked by Stockholm-based foreign journalists.
Schools stayed open, as they should have done here, but only for under-16s. Sixth forms and universities went to remote learning. Large gatherings were banned, albeit for much larger numbers than our rule of six.
Swedes voluntarily reduced social mixing, as we did here in response to Boris’s initial call.
The major difference between the two countries was not the severity of lockdown measures, voluntary or involuntary, regarding social mixing but Sweden’s sensible decision not to shut down the economy.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago

I think what happened in UK is a few days after the calls for almost a voluntary lockdown it was deemed we weren’t acting on that to the degree believed needed. Hence the decision to enforce. Of course Govt had imperfect information and an incredibly pressurised situation.
By Lockdown 2 & 3 one can argue some of that uncertainty had reduced and we could and should have made better decisions.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 month ago
Reply to  j watson

I have family in Sweden and you are telling blatant lies.
Swedes behaviour was nothing like enforced lockdowns in uk.
Sweden population density is not that different from uk, when you take into account that most people live in large cities and are not equally spread in the countryside.
What is different is the health of general population.
But obese, diabetic 80 plus with 2.7 comorbidities on average, should not expect the rest of the country to follow the path of economic, social and medical (excess deaths in much younger cohorts) destruction so they can carry on having large pizza and box of doughnuts.

j watson
j watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew F

Lies is quite a strong suggestion AF. I don’t think my Swedish friends were lying to me. They had no reason I know to do that. Whether their view was correct a different matter and I suspect you too only have anecdote.
I’m not sure what point you are making in your last paragraph? As I worked in an ITU throughout the Pandemic I can only share that the sort of patient/person you describe never made it into an ITU bed and yet we were overwhelmed.

Paul T
Paul T
1 month ago

That’s rich coming from the Shroud-Waving Party.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 month ago

An amazingly sensible debate this time – from both sides. Maybe there is hope for humanity yet 😉

Just my little contribution: When the early numbers came out shortly after COVID had got going, it seemed obvious from the death tolls that Sweden was doing disastrously bad compared to Denmark or Norway. Back then anti-lockdowners came up with a lot of reasons why the difference was really due to other peculiarities of Sweden: The timing of Swedish holidays and the amount of overseas travel was one. There were others. Now, when Sweden is the poster-boy for not locking down, a lot of people seem to take it for granted that any differences can only be due to lockdown. These may not be the same people, and either argument could be correct, but even vague movements cannot have it both ways. I think we have to accept that this question is too complex and too hard to call to get easy answers from simple comparisons. It will take time and a lot of work from a lot of people before we sort out some kind of consensus on how the measures worked.

Tom D
Tom D
1 month ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

As of December 2023, Norway had 105 Covid deaths per 100,000 people, Denmark had 152, and Sweden 244. Again, note that Denmark has a population density 5 times that of Sweden. On the surface Sweden still looks ‘disastrously bad compared to Denmark or Norway.’ Yes, there may be underlying reasons to not fully trust the accuracy of these numbers in comparison, but such reasons need to be uncovered and explained. So as of right now, we have to admit that the Swedish poster-boy could well be a myth. Perhaps the poster-boy is Danish.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
1 month ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The truth is probably that it didn’t matter what one did, the end result was always going to be the same. The older the population, the higher incidence of co-morbidities, the greater the toll whether one locked down or not. Lockdowns in the end had absolutely no impact on deaths. The same is true of masking which doesn’t work either in the community or in a health care setting. i.e. the area under the curve always remains the same no matter what mitigation measures one choses to implement or not implement. The only thing mitigation may do for viral respiratory tract infections (influenza-like illnesses or ILI for short) is perhaps flatten the curve and thereby prolonging the agony.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 month ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Flattening the curve would still help protect the health services from overload – and the resultant extra deaths. You may or may not be right about the rest – but you would have to prove it.

Ben Scott
Ben Scott
1 month ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Flattening the curve would still help protect the health services from overload
But the NHS is now utterly overloaded due to kicking the can down the road (i.e. not seeing anyone for months on end and now having to deal with the consequences of the delays).

Tom D
Tom D
1 month ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

My ophthalmologist is a Covid skeptic (unlike all my other doctors), but she admits that the ‘curve flattening’ effect is valid and necessary.
An ER nurse lives two doors down from me. She spent Easter 2020 in bed with Covid. Whenever I quote Covid skeptics to her she shoots me a look of disgust. She saw firsthand how the bodies were stacking up.

Pedro the Exile
Pedro the Exile
1 month ago

 “science and politics make very uneasy bedfellows”.
Except that in this case there was no “science” involved-just a whole load of rather inadequate computer modelling masquerading as (sic) “the science”-

William Shaw
William Shaw
1 month ago

Agreed. The computer models were very simple. Furthermore, accurate predictions were virtually impossible since the output predictions were extremely sensitive to very small changes in the input parameters… a fact that the people responsible for the modeling should have made clear to the politicians who had little choice but to run with the data. Perhaps the politicians were informed regarding parameter sensitivity and prediction instability but considered the alternative, blind guesswork on their part, to be even less acceptable. Or perhaps as people with zero understanding of the physical sciences they didn’t know any better. Whatever the reason, no world leader did much better, some far worse. And don’t forget, we voted for these people. In our system of government the ultimate authority, and therefore responsibility, resides with the citizen voters.

Gordon Arta
Gordon Arta
1 month ago

The idea that the mainstream media ‘should have held the government to account’ is beyond risible. The typical MSM health or medical editor or reporter is a 30 year old with a degree in Eng Lit or history, has absolutely no medical or health qualifications, experience, or expertise, got the job by once writing a ‘lifestyle’ column on a faddish diet or promoting ‘health supplements’, and now mangles fringe research reports under lurid headlines to sell copy. The Covid coverage in the newspaper I mainly read – can’t understand why I still do – was driven entirely by its anger with Johnson over Brexit, so everything he proposed, hinted at, might have vaguely considered, whatever it was, drew screaming headlines about ‘letting the bodies pile up’, ‘gambling with peoples’ lives’, ‘not giving time to schools to implement policy changes’, ‘waiting too long to implement policy changes’, ‘lockdowns were an infringement of human rights and the start of a police state’, ‘lockdowns weren’t introduced early enough or stringently enough’, etc etc, often in the same edition.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 month ago

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. At the end of 2020 the consensus in Sweden was that their approach had failed. Compared with Norway, deaths seemed much higher. Government and opposition parties, and even the King, stated their policy had been a failure.
In terms of COVID deaths, I suspect each country’s outcome was predetermined by age profile, population density and, especially, general health of the population (the UK being, frankly, pretty unhealthy).
Where the differing intervention policies have made a difference is in economic, education, mental health and wider health areas. Sweden has come out relatively well in these areas.

Nell L
Nell L
1 month ago

Exactly right. If preventing deaths from COVID was the only responsibility of a government, then Sweden did do worse than other comparable countries, which means other Scandinavian countries. But if a government’s responsibility is to balance preventing deaths with not doing other harms, then Sweden did well. Here in the US, we’re dealing with a generation of school children who suffered enormous educational setbacks because of COVID school closures, and they are from the poorest and most disadvantaged segments of our society. Lockdown failed them because they did not have the computers to learn remotely or the parents who could work from home to monitor them. They were the least likely to get sick and die from COVID and we knew that early in the pandemic. Keeping them physically attending school would have been the best thing to do for them in the long term. Instead, cut loose from any adult supervision they ran wild. It’s no coincidence that rates of juvenile crime, especially car theft, rose enormously during COVID. So now we have teenagers with criminal records and who are functionally illiterate. Way to go, USA!

Robbie K
Robbie K
1 month ago
Reply to  Nell L

But if a government’s responsibility is to balance preventing deaths with not doing other harms, then Sweden did well.

Goodness, now there’s a big ol’ can of worms. Perhaps you can add some detail to the kind of policies and choices that you have in mind and who should be considered as expendable. Oh and from a governmental point of view how this is served up to the public.

Neiltoo .
Neiltoo .
1 month ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Well it’s not too hard to imagine a scenario where preventing as many deaths as possible in the short term causes more deaths in the long term by, for example, stopping certain medical treatments, tests etc or by completely destroying the economy and making some people destitute resulting in more early deaths is it?

Robbie K
Robbie K
1 month ago
Reply to  Neiltoo .

Seems like an incredibly difficult decision actually. Almost impossible. I’m surprised you find it so casually easy.

Tom D
Tom D
1 month ago
Reply to  Neiltoo .

“Well it’s not too hard to imagine a scenario where preventing as many deaths as possible in the short term causes more deaths in the long term…”
Not if imagination is subjected to criticism.
“…stopping certain medical treatments, tests etc…”
Yes, we know that a quarter of the excess deaths were due to this. But three-quarters were not. That can’t be ignored either.
“…or by completely destroying the economy and making some people destitute resulting in more early deaths is it?”
I would agree that the economic side of the pandemic was bungled, but the economy was not destroyed and it is highly unlikely that the disruptions caused or will cause more deaths than the disease itself. Frankly, I was surprised that the economy performed as well as it did under the circumstances.

Simon Humphries
Simon Humphries
1 month ago

This is almost certainly correct, but the real question is how much of that is due to the benefit of hindsight.

Santiago Excilio
Santiago Excilio
1 month ago

“Science and politics make uneasy bedfellows”
Indeed. One of my favourite quotes on that subject is this: “When the search for truth is confused with political advocacy, the pursuit of knowledge is reduced to the quest for power.”

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
1 month ago

Finally some sense!

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 month ago

I agree wholly, except to point out that it’s not that the UK should have “followed” Sweden in this respect. Prior to the pandemic, both Sweden and the UK – and all advanced nations for that matter – had a plan for handling a respiratory disease pandemic, which all nations except Sweden junked as soon as the problem actually arose.

Still, apart from that one minor point, congratulations to Graham Stringer for making this point in the face of a closed-ranks establishment that clearly has no intention of ever admitting that it made the worst policy mistake in peacetime history.