What accounts for Sweden’s high Covid death rate among the Nordics? One factor could be Sweden’s lighter lockdown. But we suggest 15 other possible factors. Most significant are: (1) the “dry-tinder” situation in Sweden (we suggest that this factor alone accounts for 25 to 50% of Sweden’s Covid death toll); (2) Stockholm’s larger population; (3) Sweden’s higher immigrant population; (4) in Sweden immigrants probably more often work in the elderly care system; (5) Sweden has a greater proportion of people in elderly care; (6) Stockholm’s “sport-break” was a week later than the other three capital cities; (7) Stockholm’s system of elderly care collects especially vulnerable people in nursing homes. Other possible factors are: (8) the Swedish elderly and health care system may have done less to try to cure elderly Covid patients; (9) Sweden may have been relatively understocked in protective equipment and sanitizers; (10) Sweden may have been slower to separate Covid patients in nursing homes; (11) Sweden may have been slower to implement staff testing and changes in protocols and equipage; (12) Sweden elderly care workers may have done more cross-facility work; (13) Sweden might have larger nursing homes; (14) Stockholmers might travel more to the Alpine regions; (15) Sweden might be quicker to count a death “a Covid death.” We give evidence for these other 15 possible factors. It is plausible that Sweden’s lighter lockdown accounts for but a small part of Sweden’s higher Covid death rate.
- Exposure to Covid-19 is similar in Stockholm and London, based on antibody tests, despite different lockdown strategies.
- The research, published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, found that 17% of people tested in April in Stockholm had developed antibodies.
- This compares with 17% of Londoners tested in April and May, and 5%-10% of people living in Geneva.
The epidemiologist in charge of Sweden’s coronavirus response has dismissed the scientific evidence for mask-wearing as “astonishingly weak” and suggested that making face coverings mandatory could backfire.
Anders Tegnell, the face of his country’s distinctive light-touch approach to Covid-19, said it was “very dangerous” to believe that facemasks on their own could control the spread of the disease.
He also conceded that Sweden had failed to protect its old people’s homes against the virus but said the number of new infections in the care sector had dwindled away to a negligible level since the height of the outbreak four months ago.
Dr Tegnell has steered a markedly different course from those plotted by most other European countries, leaving bars, restaurants and most schools open throughout
- Sweden’s GDP fell 8.6 in Q2 2020, the country’s worst quarterly decline in modern history.
- The Scandanavian nation markedly outperformed the rest of Europe. Its GDP drop in the second quarter was lower than the 12.1 average experienced in the Eurozone, as well as the 11.9 average across the whole of the EU.
- Sweden outperformed several European countries, including Spain (18.5 percent fall), France (13.6 percent), Italy (12.4 percent) and Germany (10.1 percent).
Swedish health experts say struggle against pandemic is ‘marathon not a sprint’
The country has one of the highest death rates from coronavirus in the world
Anders Tegnell’s refusal to impose lockdown is held up by critics as a warning
But is it possible the Scandinavian nation made the right call in the long-term?
- Article based on experience working as a doctor in the emergency room of one of the big hospitals in Stockholm, Sweden, and of living as a citizen in Sweden.
- Unlike other countries, Sweden never went in to complete lockdown. Non-essential businesses have remained open, people have continues to go to cafés and restaurants, children have remained in school, and very few people have bothered with face masks in public.
- COVID hit Stockholm like a storm in mid-March. One day I was seeing people with appendicitis and kidney stones, the usual things you see in the emergency room. The next day all those patients were gone and the only thing coming in to the hospital was COVID. Practically everyone who was tested had COVID, regardless of what the presenting symptom was. People came in with a nose bleed and they had COVID. They came in with stomach pain and they had COVID.
- Then, after a few months, all the COVID patients disappeared.
- At the peak three months back, a hundred people were dying a day of COVID in Sweden, a country with a population of ten million. We are now down to around five people dying per day in the whole country, and that number continues to drop. Since people generally die around three weeks after infection, that means virtually no-one is getting infected any more.
- The risk of dying is at the very most 1 in 200 if you actually do get infected.
- In total COVID has killed under 6,000 people in a country of ten million.
- Sweden has an annual death rate of around 100,000 people. Considering that 70% of those who have died of COVID are over 80 years old, quite a few of those 6,000 would have died this year anyway.
- COVID will never even come close to major pandemic numbers like 1918 flu.
- If herd immunity hasn’t developed, where are all the sick people? Why has the rate of infection dropped so precipitously?
- The reason we test for antibodies is because it is easy and cheap. Antibodies are in fact not the body’s main defence against virus infections. T-cells are. But T-cells are harder to measure than antibodies, so we don’t really do it clinically.
- Sweden ripped the metaphorical band-aid off quickly and got the epidemic over and done with in a short amount of time, while the rest of the world has chosen to try to peel the band-aid off slowly.
- I am willing to bet that the countries that have shut down completely will see rates spike when they open up. If that is the case, then there won’t have been any point in shutting down in the first place, because all those countries are going to end up with the same number of dead at the end of the day anyway. Shutting down completely in order to decrease the total number of deaths only makes sense if you are willing to stay shut down until a vaccine is available. That could take years.
- COVID has at present killed less than 6000 in Sweden. It is very unlikely that the number of dead will go above 7,000. An average influenza year in Sweden, 700 people die of influenza. Does that mean COVID is ten times worse than influenza? No, because influenza has been around for centuries while COVID is completely new.
- So it is quite possible, in fact likely, that the case fatality rate for COVID is the same as for influenza, or only slightly higher, and the entire difference we have seen is due to the complete lack of any immunity in the population at the start of this pandemic.
While novel coronavirus cases have spiked across several parts of Europe, including Spain, France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, Sweden—where a countrywide lockdown was never issued—continues to report a downward trend in new cases and new deaths.
COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people in Sweden vs. Europe
Source: Johns Hopkins University (as of August 2)
- Sweden: 56.40
- Belgium: 86.19
- U.K.: 69.60
- Spain: 60.88
- Italy: 58.16
COVID-19 case-fatality ratio of Sweden vs. Europe
Source: Johns Hopkins University (as of August 2)
- Sweden: 7.1 percent
- U.K.: 15.1 percent
- Belgium: 14.2 percent
- Italy: 14.2 percent
- France: 13.4 percent
- The Netherlands: 11.2 percent
- Spain: 9.9 percent
New COVID-19 cases in Sweden vs. Europe in past 14 days
Source: World Health Organization (as of August 2)
- Sweden: Down 46 percent
- The Netherlands: Up 205 percent
- Belgium: Up 150 percent
- Spain: Up 113 percent
- France: Up 72 percent
- Germany: Up 59 percent
- Finland: Up 160 percent
- Denmark: Up 81 percent
- Norway: Up 61 percent
- U.K.: Up three percent
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- Credentials: PhD Engineering, MBA
- E-mail: [email protected]
- YouTube: Alfonso Longo
- Download: Document on Google Drive
Four scientific evidences of the null effect of massive confinement during covid 19 in Spain
It is obvious that the official hypothesis of the non lockdown deaths in Spain is dismantled by the real result in Sweden. The huge difference between 10,000 and 450 in Sweden could not be explained, either very remotely, by geographical, demographic or sociological factors that differentiate Sweden from Spain. If That is the case, Sweden would naturally be an anti-covid society. A scientifically unsustainable fantasy.
No medical treatment would be approved without using control groups in the experiments, however mass confinement is accepted without this condition, knowing that Sweden serves perfectly as an experimental control group.
(Note that the document is hosted on Google Drive.)
Shutting down primary schools may have been unnecessary as a Swedish study suggests that keeping them open had no impact on contagion.
There was no measurable difference in the number of coronavirus cases among children in Sweden, where schools were left open, compared with neighboring Finland, where schools were shut, the research showed.
A working paper, published by the Public Health Agency of Sweden and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, compares the two countries’ approach to education during the pandemic.
- Sweden’s total deaths per million in population as of July 14 is 549. That’s considerably lower than the deaths per million rate in the UK, which is 662, and in Spain, which is 608. In Belgium, the death rate is 884.
- Sweden deaths per million is many times better than the rates found in New Jersey and New York: 1,763 and 1,669.
- Articles condemning Sweden’s “failure” rarely if ever mention these comparisons.
- Nonlockdown Sweden has a death rate similar to harsh-lockdown France can only be explained by claiming France didn’t lock down harshly enough or long enough.
- Two weeks after the WHO’s prediction that Sweden will have a resurgence in COVID-19, both cases and deaths in Sweden continue to trend downward.
- Thanks to Sweden we know what both lockdown and nonlockdown countries look like: they look remarkably similar in some cases.
- After all, after failing to implement a lockdown for months, Sweden is still nowhere near matching the death rates reported in New York.
In reality many of the people who died from Covid-19 were likely to die this year anyway, so in one respect this estimate is likely to be too high. In another respect it’s likely to be too low, as it will not include ‘lockdown deaths’, that is, the deaths from delayed cancer and heart treatments, and so on, but as I was interested in the effect of Covid-19 I didn’t want those in my graph anyway. (Another complication is that not everyone who is classed as a Covid-19 death actually died from it, but I decided to ignore this.)
The five year average for 2015-19 is 531,355 deaths per year. As of writing this there were 42,462 Covid-19 deaths in the UK. There are likely to be a few more deaths in the next few weeks, but not many more, as the disease is (barring an unlikely second wave in winter), on its way out. Besides, the number we are adding on here is for the whole of the UK, not just England and Wales, so if anything this number is inflated. That gives us 573,817 deaths for 2020. Then I got hold of the historical population figures for England and Wales, and calculated the death rates per 1000 from it, so that population increases are taken account of. Here is the result:
“Intensive care units are getting empty, the wards are getting empty, we are really seeing a decrease — and that despite that people are really loosening up. The beaches are crowded, social distancing is not kept very well … but still the numbers are really decreasing. That means that something else is happening – we are actually getting closer to herd immunity. I can’t really see another reason.”
“I can’t say if the Swedish approach was right or wrong – I think we can say that in one or two years when we are looking back. You have to look at the mortality over the whole period.”
“I don’t think that we have more new cases, I think we are just detecting more cases”
“We found that if you have a mild case you can be negative for antibodies afterwards … in those almost all of them had strong T-cell activity. This study says that there are cases that you can have a strong T-cell response even though you have not had antibodies, meaning that you have encountered the virus and built up immunity.”
Professor Paul Dennis, a geologist and isotope geochemist at the University of East Anglia, compared the deaths in England, Sweden, Spain. He found near identical dynamics, which supports the theory that COVID-19 appears to follow the Gompertz curve in every outbreak region. This implies that social distancing and lockdown has no effect.
Stockholm is the best population to test Covid theory whereby it was hit hard early and did not have lockdowns. Nobel Prize winner Dr Michael Levitt postulated that the virus burns out when it has infected 15-20% of the population. According to this, he’s right.
So what does this mean? Lockdowns were a waste of time and resources. Minimizing deaths just delays the inevitable. Those countries which were not hit are most likely to see continued spikes and outbreaks. Maybe less during the summer but a second wave later this year.
- Far from following the science, the government turned its back on all available data.
- Until mid-April, with the escalating deaths in care homes agonisingly clear across Europe, government policy was still for patients to be discharged to care homes from hospitals without requiring negative tests. And so the toll: around half of UK Covid-19 deaths are care home residents, despite them accounting for only 0.6 per cent of our population.
- Germany, whose population is roughly 25 per cent bigger than ours, has suffered approximately a quarter of our Covid deaths.
- Ministers have deferred to scientists who themselves deferred to the projections of models, even when data on the ground told a completely different story.
- Statisticians on social media had a field day pointing out the chasm between modelled outcomes and reality, but it is not clear that the models on which SAGE relied (both their input parameters and mechanical dynamics) were continually refined with on-the-ground data (or simply discarded as wrong).
- Why weren’t Oxford’s team, who specialise in zoonotic viruses and who looked at the same data as Neil Ferguson’s modelling-led team but came to wildly different conclusions, on SAGE’s panel to provide an alternative view?
- Why were there no economists on SAGE? Economics is not the bloodless pursuit of money but the science of decision-making under uncertainty where resources are finite; could they really have brought nothing to the party?
- In mid-March, Stanford’s Nobel laureate Michael Levitt (biophysicist and professor of structural biology) discussed the “natural experiment” of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, a petridish disproportionately filled with the most susceptible age and health groups. Even here, despite the virus spreading uncontrolled onboard for at least two weeks, infection only reached a minority of passengers and crew.
- The data towards the end of March clearly showed we were already near the tipping point of the bell-curve (meaning the disease is on the wane). We were already past the point where lockdown could have made much difference.
- Knut Wittkowski: “respiratory diseases [including Covid-19] . . . remain only about two months in any given population”.
Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s state epidemiologist, said he advised against such restrictions on movement because of the detrimental side effects they often entail.
“It was as if the world had gone mad, and everything we had discussed was forgotten,” Tegnell said in a podcast with Swedish Radio on Wednesday. “The cases became too many and the political pressure got too strong. And then Sweden stood there rather alone.”
The sad but unavoidable fact, that the disease is little danger to most young and healthy people but is especially deadly to the old and ill, is also now beyond dispute…
The ceaseless assumption of the Government and the BBC that the shutdown ‘protected’ the NHS is simply not borne out by any facts. The NHS was never going to be overwhelmed. Covid deaths in this country peaked on April 8 – an event far too soon to have been caused by the shutdown announced on March 23 and begun the following day.
In fact, the country with the highest number of deaths per head is Belgium (843 per million). Yet Belgium introduced one of the tightest and most severe shutdowns on the planet. Sweden, without a shutdown at all, has suffered 472 deaths per million.
The UK figure of 620 per million may be inflated by our lax recording methods but hardly suggests that we did better than Sweden by throttling our economy and grossly interfering in personal liberty. Japan, which also did not shut down, suffered just over seven (yes, seven) deaths per million…
I believe that forces hostile to our country, its history and nature, have seen this as an opportunity. Probably incredulous to begin with, they realised the British people really had gone soft, accepting absurd and humiliating diktats, believing the most ridiculous claims.
Professor Karl Friston is a computer modelling expert, world-renowned for his contributions to neuroscience. He has been applying his “dynamic causal modelling” approach to the Covid-19 pandemic, and has reached some startling results.
– The differences between countries are not primarily down to government actions, but due to ‘intrinsic’ differences in the populations
– We don’t yet fully understand what is driving it, although there are theories ranging from levels of vitamin D to genetic differences
– In each country, there appears to be a portion of the population that is ‘not even in the game’ – that is, not susceptible to Covid-19. This varies hugely between countries
– In the UK, Professor Friston estimates that portion to be at least 50%, and probably more like 80%
– The similar mortality results between Sweden (no lockdown) and the UK (lockdown) are best explained by the fact that in reality there was no difference
– the impact of the legal lockdown in Professor Friston’s models “literally goes away”.
Neil Ferguson, who became known as “professor lockdown” after convincing Boris Johnson to radically curtail everyday freedoms, acknowledged that, despite relying on “quite similar science”, the Swedish authorities had “got a long way to the same effect” without a full lockdown.
It is becoming clear that the severity of a lockdown does not correlate significantly either with the spread of the coronavirus or the rate of deaths. I noted in this column a couple of weeks back that the states that had remained open had, if anything, fared better than the rest. We can now also see that the states that ended the closures early, such as Georgia, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, are not suffering any noticeable new surge. It is a similar picture in Europe, where Spain and Italy, with very harsh quarantines, suffered worse than the Netherlands and Germany, where the restrictions were moderate.
But none of that will alter the verdict. The counterexample of 1930s Britain does not dent the confidence of New Deal enthusiasts. The counterexample of Iceland, which refused to rescue its bankers and bounced back quickly from the financial crisis, does not dent the confidence of bailout enthusiasts. And the counterexample of Sweden, which left shops and businesses open and told people to use their common sense, will not change the minds of lockdown enthusiasts.