Sweden's Covid Experiment is Now a Certified Failure

Mish

Sweden gained nothing from less social distancing restrictions.

Open Air Failure

Sweden captured international attention for its decision to buck the trend on mandated shut-ins. 

The results are now in as Sweden Has Become the World’s Cautionary Tale.

Not only have thousands more people died than in neighboring countries that imposed lockdowns, but Sweden’s economy has fared little better.  “They literally gained nothing,” said Jacob F. Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “It’s a self-inflicted wound, and they have no economic gains.”

Sweden put stock in the sensibility of its people as it largely avoided imposing government prohibitions. The government allowed restaurants, gyms, shops, playgrounds and most schools to remain open. By contrast, Denmark and Norway opted for strict quarantines, banning large groups and locking down shops and restaurants.

More than three months later, the coronavirus is blamed for 5,420 deaths in Sweden, according to the World Health Organization. That might not sound especially horrendous compared with the more than 129,000 Americans who have died. But Sweden is a country of only 10 million people. Per million people, Sweden has suffered 40 percent more deaths than the United States, 12 times more than Norway, seven times more than Finland and six times more than Denmark.

Sweden’s central bank expects its economy to contract by 4.5 percent this year, a revision from a previously expected gain of 1.3 percent.  This is more or less how damage caused by the pandemic has played out in Denmark, where the central bank expects that the economy will shrink 4.1 percent this year.

7-Day Rolling Average Confirmed Deaths

Covid Deaths Per Million People 7-day Rolling Avertage 2020-07-07

Trump Flashback on Sweden

On April 30, Trump blasted Sweden for not having strict quarantines,

Flashback June 10

Trump Pence Team Photo Op June 10

Vice President Mike Pence deleted a Tweet showing the campaign team, packed together for a photo-op, none of them wearing 

"Stopped by to see the great men and women of the Trump-Pence Team today!" the tweet read. "Thank you for all of the hard work, keep it up!"

Rules? Who Cares?

 No one, including Pence wore a mask and the group far exceeded the 10-person gathering limit outlined in Virginia's phase one coronavirus guidelines.

Reopening in Reverse

Since late June it's been reopening in reverse.

The US and Sweden are now following similar paths, Sweden never required masks, and in the US rules were not enforced, led by Trump and his fake news of the day Trump's Fake News of the Day: States Testing Too Much

Mish 

Comments (159)
No. 1-49
Goblueguy
Goblueguy

Michigan like Sweden has almost exactly 10 million people. Like Sweden, most of us live in 1 large metro area and the rest in one large wilderness. Unlike Sweden, we had one of the earliest and draconian lockdowns in the Union. Yet Sweden has 13% fewer deaths than us, and a functional economy. From the perspective of Detroit, I'd say Sweden is an unqualified success

Ben B
Ben B

Umm, didn't they avoid the catastrophic repercussions of destroying small businesses with a shut down? This virus is so overblown, sad to see so many "smart" people duped...

JSpooner
JSpooner

Japan didn't have a lockdown either. Maybe the title of the post should be "Japan's Covid Experiment is Now a Certified Success"?

randocalrissian
randocalrissian

Obvious lead at the end of the day is "US gets all the pain and none of the gain from its virus response."

Anda
Anda

This is what made me mention Stockholm on a previous post, this is for Sweden but Stockholm looks similar. It might be for various reasons, but fatalities are given as low now while cases still stay high. I won't try to interpret why but it is enough to make question, just not sure what though

Images are from worldometer.

Thalamus
Thalamus

Sweden absolutely made the correct decision. They compressed time and accelerated the infections in a shorter time period, moving them closer to natural herd immunity. So more deaths is expected in shorter time frame.

jacob_zuma
jacob_zuma

There's another point worth mentioning about Sweden. The people applauding it have been noting its healthcare system was not overwhelmed, but the data at https://www.covid19insweden.com/en/ shows that cumulative deaths from Covid-19 so far are more than double cumulative ICU admissions for the disease. Data at the same site shows that had Covid-19 ICU patients been doubled at any point of time, the country would have run out of ICU beds.

anoop
anoop

what are we all going to do?

Helene84
Helene84

It's far too early to be making pronouncements like this.

Jojo
Jojo

I submit that a lot of people will disagree with your contention, including the author of this article.

Jul 7, 2020
Second wave? Not even close.
JB Handley

Why did politicians ever lockdown society in the first place? Can we all agree that the stated purpose was to “flatten the curve” so our hospital system could handle the inevitable COVID-19 patients who needed care? At that point, at least, back in early March, people were behaving rationally. They accepted that you can’t eradicate a virus, so let’s postpone things enough to handle it.

The fact is, we have done that, and so much more.

The headlines are filled with dire warnings of a “second wave” and trigger-happy Governors are rolling back regulations to try to stem the tide of new cases. But, is any of it actually true and should we all be worried? No, it’s not a second wave.

The COVID-19 virus is on its final legs, and while I have filled this post with graphs to prove everything I just said, this is really the only graph you need to see, it’s the CDC’s data, over time, of deaths from COVID-19 here in the U.S., and the trend line is unmistakable:

If virologists were driving policy about COVID-19 rather than public health officials, we’d all be Sweden right now, which means life would effectively be back to normal. The only thing our lockdowns have done at this point is prolong the agony a little bit, and encouraged Governors to make up more useless rules.

Sweden’s health minister understood that the only chance to beat COVID-19 was to get the Swedish population to a Herd Immunity Threshold against COVID-19, and that’s exactly what they have done, so let me start there.
The Herd Immunity Threshold (“HIT”) for COVID-19 is between 10-20%

This fact gets less press than any other. Most people understand the basic concept of herd immunity and the math behind it. In the early days, some public health officials speculated that COVID-19’s HIT was 70%. Obviously, the difference between a HIT of 70% and a HIT of 10-20% is dramatic, and the lower the HIT, the quicker a virus will burn out as it loses the ability to infect more people, which is exactly what COVID-19 is doing everywhere, including the U.S, which is why the death curve above looks the way it looks.

BLUEWIN
BLUEWIN

Mish . . . you should know better . . . its way to early to make any kind of conclusions . . . maybe by this time next year we will have a good idea of the winners and losers . . . until then you are just stoking the fire . . .

Casual_Observer
Casual_Observer

It is kind of farcical to be comparing countries at any point. I said that before Covid and say it now. Even comparing states within the United States is a bit of a joke. It is surprising Canada is even close to Sweden or the US on that chart.

ZZR600
ZZR600

Well Sweden has done better than the UK ( with a much stricter lockdown), 44,000 deaths in 65M compared to 5400 in 10M.

TCW
TCW

“It’s a self-inflicted wound, and they have no economic gains.” Gains were never expected and are not relevant, it's losses right now that matter. If they didn't take losses, then their economy is doing better, relatively speaking.

Heran
Heran

Cherry picking some countries is a good way of research? Belgium, Spain, Italy and UK all have higher mortality rate than Sweden while having severe lockdown measures. This Bloomberg article is a much better analysis of European countris: https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2020-opinion-coronavirus-europe-lockdown-excess-deaths-recession/

njbr
njbr

It's clear that Sweden was looking for its adults to behave like responsible adults, but that wasn't sufficient. And there are 10 times the present cases from herd immunity. The UK went for herd immunity, realized they couldn't do it and shut down hard late in the game.

Meanwhile Asian countries really kicked ass with their prevention methods.

And the US is determined not behave like responsible adults and we're getting our
asses kicked.

We are on the cusp of hospitals getting overflowed with cases ("they weren't supposed to wind up in the hospital" is close to making the transition to "they weren't supposed to die in the hospital").

Oh and by the way, after daycare in Texas opened up last month....

....At least 1,335 people have tested positive from child care facilities in Texas, the state’s Department of Health and Human Services reported Monday, citing figures from Friday.

Of those infected, 894 were staff members and 441 were children. The cases came from 883 child care facilities that are open in the state, DHHS said.

The new cases mark a significant increase from June 15, when there were 210 reported cases from 177 facilities — including 141 staff members and 69 children.

On May 15, Texas reported a total of 59 cases from 53 child care facilities. At that time, 36 staff members and 23 children were infected....

HAPPY SCHOOL OPENING!!

Marian Ruccius
Marian Ruccius

A better comparator to Sweden than Canada is the province of Ontario, which had a strict shut-down starting in March. Sweden and Ontario have similar economies, manufacturing sectors and resource industries. Similar population sizes (Ontario is a third larger). Ontario has HALF the deaths that Sweden does.

Webej
Webej

Depends on what winning is ...

Look at what is happening in Australia. All the places that were successful with draconian containment policies are going to keep having mishaps upon reopening, forcing them to double down again and again. These comparisons are mistaking the first inning for the whole game.

fla56
fla56

Er Mish you’re on a mission here, a false one

You’ve lost all objectivity

Go and look at the total excess deaths, the GDP growth in Sweden Q1, the downward revisions everywhere else, the cancer deaths coming everywhere else

Then add to that the damage to children and families everywhere else

History will not be kind on the fools who instigated late lockdowns, esp not when it was to cover their economic bubble bursting

KoalaBare
KoalaBare

@Mish the real question is not the total number of deaths. It is the excess number of deaths - the deaths that would happen if the medical care system does get over-run (including non-Covid-19 emergency medical cases!!). Are there numbers for Sweden vs USA on this?

To argue, or imply, as Thalamus does, that we need to "compress the timeline" towards Herd Immunity is ridiculous without considering the excess deaths.

Heck, we are not even 1% of the population with known cases in the US, and HI needs 60%+ (we are years from achieving that, at a pace that doesn't overwhelm our medical system).

We may not prevent deaths without a vaccine or treatment that reduces the mortality rate (right now), but there is no reason to just accelerate this beyond our healthcare capacity to treat and mitigate the death toll.

Of course, we cannot afford to shut down like we have, but the "re-opening" across many states shows there was a lot of wishful thinking / head in sand with our so-called "leaders" pandering to politics.

There needs to be an order of magnitude more serious thought to finding that sweet spot of opening while staying under that threshold capacity, and manage people's expectations to that.

This is a problem we will have to live with for the next few / several years. It is time someone makes this loud and clear. It is NOT going away in months, or even in 2021. Gotta get real about this.

TCW
TCW

Sweden would have had much lower death numbers had they protected the nursing homes. For those under 70, the death rate is .8%. I believe the flu is around .5%. Personally, if I lived in a nursing home I'd pray for someone to bring the virus to me so I could check out, some things are worse than death.

Diogenes' Kin
Diogenes' Kin

The one thing missing from your analysis is that life expectancies are much higher in Sweden. Since Covid-19 is rarely fatal in individuals < 45 yo, and has a much higher Infection Fatality Rate in individuals > 65, the real analysis should be not the deaths per million, but weighted toward the age of the entire population. I.e., weighted, at least by the average age of the population.

There is also just the fact that nothing is going to even out all the statistical anomalies -- including differences in reporting, etc. Also, Belgium has one of the highest death rates (and has always outpaced Sweden).

Truthen Tolden
Truthen Tolden

Something seems off comparing Sweden to the USA or Japanese populations. Isn't contrasting Sweden, approx population 10 million, to NYC, population approx 8 million, a better comparison?

Doug Thorburn
Doug Thorburn

70% of their deaths have been in nursing homes. So, the greater the lockdown, the greater the death rate. Hmm...

killben
killben

Per million people, Sweden has suffered 40 percent more deaths than the United States, 12 times more than Norway, seven times more than Finland and six times more than Denmark.

Another way of looking at the same data.

With lockdown, per million people, US suffered 8.3 times more deaths than Norway, 5 times that Finland, 4.3 times that of Denmark.

Few more questions one could ask...

  1. How much money has Sweden spent to save its businesses (restaurant et. al) VS money spent by the US, UK etc.
  2. What would have been the impact if the US had not spent all the money
  3. How many businesses have gone bust or going to go bust due to lockdown
  4. Can the countries do the heavy lifting for ever?

While it is likely that Swden could have been wrong, at least it asked itself questions whether lockdown is the ONLY right answer and dared to look for other solutions, which also means it considered the economic damage that lockdown would cause. This is not to say lockdown is not a solution but then each path has its own costs in terms of the economy and lives.

Covid essentially presented only bad options and taking a decision was never going to be as easy as LOCKDOWN NOW.

ToInfinityandBeyond
ToInfinityandBeyond

I see the covidiots are out in force again. So let’s get a few things things straight.

  1. This virus is significantly more deadly than the flu.

  2. Without the measures taken in the tri-state area deaths in NY, NJ and CT would have been dramatically higher - collectively approximately 650,000 diagnosed cases with just over 50,000 fatalities.

  3. The tri-state area case numbers and fatalities account for the overall US numbers trending down. The governors in the tri-state area did a good job driving down the infection and fatality rates. Remove the tri-state metrics from the overall US picture and we are no longer trending down as a nation. FL, TX and AZ and a few other states are all trending up! This is not rocket science.

  4. The tri-state area has effectively driven down rates but the jury is out as to whether it can be sustained.

  5. Experience in the tri-state area shows that fatalities lag hospitalizations which in turn lag diagnosis of Covid cases. In fact it takes as long as a month after case numbers trend up for fatalities to start trending upwards.

  6. New Covid cases in the rest of the country appear to be hitting a younger population. Hopefully this will result in a lower fatality rate in these states but we need to wait, watch and hope. There is no guarantee that the younger population won’t pass the virus onto older family members. Given the lag time from diagnosis to hospitalizations to fatality it is too early to claim otherwise.

FromBrussels
FromBrussels

This shows once again that one can 'prove' anything with statistics ! Despite lock downs, Belgium got 10K corona deaths on a 11 million population.... and yes I know that unlike other countries we included old people homes' deaths, but even so , saying now that Sweden is a 'failure' looks a bit too simplistic and unfair...

Jackn
Jackn

I don't believe the fake graphs. Only a 130000 people have died of "Covid" when over 2300000 case have been reported. This compares to the 320000000 people living in the country.

baldfoot
baldfoot

Any claims about success or not of COVID-19 responses will remain premature until this pandemic has run its course. Looking ahead to June 1, 2022

Montana33
Montana33

Why follow a Sweden strategy now? I seriously don’t get why Republican Senators are just watching their party get obliterated by Trump. I predicted his hotels would go bankrupt and he would end the Republican Party. He already lost his Turnberry hotel to Marriott so the bankruptcy is right before our eyes. This goes down in the history books as the inflection point that drove the Republicans into oblivion.

Truthen Tolden
Truthen Tolden

An interesting comparison is the death rate per million in Tokyo to the death rate per million in New York City. New York City has 10 million people and 27k people per sq mile. Tokyo has 8 million people and 16k people per sq mile.

Population density might explain the discrepancy in the death rate per million between NYC (1638) and Tokyo (23), but there must be other environmental and behavioral factors.

GleninAK
GleninAK

You are too early to declare what the effect on either the final economic effects are for Sweden or their neighbors. You are too early to determine what the ultimate death statistic results of a broader exposure to the virus will be. The first due to confirmation bias (the agencies do not want to change their own diagnosis that Sweden will suffer just as badly economically as their neighbors), and the second due to a lack of consideration for the dramatically different effects by age and health. If the elderly population in Sweden has been exposed and survived the virus, then their death statistics will be dramatically lower going forward. Mish, I know you like the "you conservatives (who don't believe the government should exercize these shutdown powers like they have without taking into consideration who is really affected by the disease) are wrong" or "you skeptics (who doubted the deadliness of the disease and the extraordinary response called for by health statisticians called pandemic modelers) are wrong". It may very well YOU will turn out to be wrong as we tally the other types of deaths that rose due to the Covid Response, the reduction in the quality of life for other countries, the worsening second wave effects, etc. I guess we shall see. For now, you can claim victory, but keep an eye in the rear-view mirror and keep questioning your own assumptions.
Best to you. I enjoy the site even though we come at things from a different political view.

Terapin
Terapin

Specifically why?

Cforbes
Cforbes

I remember about 10 years ago reading Mish’s excellent analysis of many issues and thorough research he put into his opinion pieces. If Mish from ten years ago were to do a critique of present day Mish, he would show how New York has twice the population of Sweden but four times as many Covid-19 deaths. He would compare the population’s average age, healthcare systems, density, degrees of lockdown measures and a host of other metrics before reaching his conclusion. He wasn’t just another Trump hater. I miss the Mish from 2009 when I started following his work. Sad.

timot78
timot78

Mish, it is too early to pronounce the final results. Per Worldometer.com, Sweden is below UK, Belgium, Spain, and Italy in deaths/1 mil.

ToInfinityandBeyond
ToInfinityandBeyond

Interesting article that pretty much sums up the US handling of the Coronavirus.

vernino
vernino

Hi everybody, can you summarise a few things:
Your country
what seems to be the short term plan for your country
what seems to be the long term plan for your country

I will go first:
Australia
containment
not clear "management" does not seem to have a clue

Thanks

NewUlm
NewUlm

Just check the US states... 11 states are doing worse than Sweeden on deaths per million. More US states are on track to catch-up, but more slowly and with a higher number of cases mainly because treatments are getting better.

Take the peak quickly or slowly but results are trending to being equal, it will take another year or two call a "winner" or "loser".

Pontius
Pontius

All of 7 deaths yesterday. Exiting early. Flatten the curve, longer tail.

hotwater14
hotwater14

There are more things to consider than just number of deaths and expected economic hit. I value liberty, and probably many Swedes do as well. When considering how they were able to keep more of their freedom to make a living and participate in their favorite activities, Sweden has been more successful than most other countries.

Carl_R
Carl_R

If Sweden didn't get it right, who did? How about Japan?

They wore masks because they always do. They learned that the worst places for infections are loud singing and cheering, plus gyms. The didn't lock down, but encouraged people to avoid the three C's, closed spaces, crowds, and close contact. Additionally, when cases appeared ready to spike, they encouraged people to stay home, if they could. Of course, it doesn't hurt that they have the lowest rate of obesity and heart disease in the world, but still, their number of cases and deaths is extremely low, orders of magnitude lower than Sweden.

Truthen Tolden
Truthen Tolden

Looks like Mike Whitney of The Unz Review provided much better analysis and fucked the person who wrote this Mish Talk article right in the ass. Do us all a favor and read what this guy wrote and try to do better next time. Be like Mike. https://www.zerohedge.com/political/whitney-looks-sweden-was-right-after-all

numike
numike

Unfortunately, the truth is that we have only a rudimentary knowledge of several aspects of infection spread, including on one critical aspect of the SARS-CoV-2 virus: how THIS virus transmits

Worth reading in full:

Advancingtime
Advancingtime

Covid-19 has not taken the large number of lives many experts predicted but it has taken a massive toll on the economy bringing many sectors to their knees. Over time answers have begun to emerge as to the extent covid-19 will have to impact our lives in coming years, however, the truth is being diluted and held hostage by politics.

The subject of a "covid future" has a lot of parts that we have yet to face. Successfully balancing the damage to the economy and the mess it makes of our lives with health issues is a difficult act. The article below delves into this subject and why we remain so confused as to the long term effects of this pandemic.

Boris kaid
Boris kaid

The author is wrong in 3 ways:

  1. He totally ignores the Swedish health officials opinion that they will get through the illness more quickly. It's easy to argue things if you frame the argument for the other person.
  2. The United States is an amalgam. Many places have enforced health rules vigorously and therefore if that works there should be significant percentage differences with Sweden even if his premise is correct.
  3. The nursing homes have had a high percentage of the deaths EVERYWHERE.
    ... better censor this one
Bill13
Bill13

Mish, maybe now that a month has passed you should do a follow up and discuss how you were so wrong.