It’s amazing how often Sweden still crops up in conversations. It didn’t impose tough lockdown, kept primary schools and core economic activities functioning, issued clear guidelines and relied on voluntary social distancing and personal hygiene practices to manage the crisis. For harsh lockdowns to be justified elsewhere, Sweden had to be discredited. Hence the harsh criticisms of Sweden’s approach last year by the New York Times, Newsweek, USA Today, CBS News and others.
But with Sweden’s demonstrable success, goalposts have shifted. Every time it’s mentioned as a counter to Europe’s high Covid-toll lockdown countries, the response now is: ‘But their Nordic neighbours did much better. Look at Denmark’. Let’s ‘interrogate’ this argument.
Danish authorities have opted for a more cautious path, even though Reuters reported that excluding J&J’s shot could significantly delay the country’s vaccination efforts.
Danish drug officials last month abandoned the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, also citing the risk of blood clots. In March, Denmark became the first country in the world to temporarily suspend the AstraZeneca shot, but unlike its European neighbors, the country made that suspension permanent.
Meanwhile, the disconnect between what ordinary people can see with their own eyes and the Covid regulations only confirms the idea that Government pronouncements are no longer to be taken literally. The rules are starting to seem symbolic and removed, subject to broad reinterpretation. While the polling shows that people are content with the official pace of reopening, the mobility data (what people are actually doing) shows they have been quietly reopening their lives since January. Apple data now shows use of public transport in London up to nearly 70 per cent of normal from nearer 30 per cent at the start of this lockdown.
By plunging London into a Tier Three lockdown, the Government is going to do terrible harm to the city, the entire national economy, and to millions of lives.
No one can predict the number of people who will lose jobs, suffer poor mental health or who will have life-saving operations postponed until too late.
All we can say with any certainty is that all these things will happen, and not to a few isolated people. The harms caused by these new restrictions, like those caused by the previous over-reactions, will be immense.
- The Government is withholding much of the information we need to draw our own conclusions about better ways to handle the crisis.
- The weekly average number of Covid deaths in the capital is just over a tenth of what it was at its peak in April.
- Weekly average Covid admissions to London’s hospitals are a quarter of what were in the spring.
- The [UK Government’s] obsession with secrecy is not intended to hide the facts from enemy agents but from us, the general public.
- This disease is not like Spanish flu, or the plague. It does not sweep away young and old indiscriminately. In fact, many younger people – now more likely to catch Covid – will have it without even being aware. They will be infected but not affected.
- The average age of people dying with a Covid infection is 82 years and four months – 14 months more than the average life expectancy in Britain.
- In November the total number of deaths in London was very little different to the average over the past five years.
- Covid is a respiratory virus that spreads on the wind. Just look at the leaves blowing around – that’s what viral particles do when we walk past each other.
- Cloth or woven paper masks are no barrier to this tiny virus either, as shown by the world’s only controlled study, from Denmark, which found that they only made a small, ‘non-statistically-significant’ difference.