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Dramatic drop Covid in Sweden after never fully locking down #543896
08/03/20 09:21 PM
08/03/20 09:21 PM
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Coronavirus cases drop dramatically in Sweden after never fully locking down, as European cases rise

While health officials throughout Europe brace for a ‘second wave’ of coronavirus infections, Sweden — which never fully locked down over COVID-19 in the first place — is experiencing dramatic declines in new cases.

According to a World Health Organization report, the number of new COVID cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks since July 29 fell by about 54 percent from the number of new cases during the previous 14-day period, Newsweek noted.

Meanwhile, the number of cases throughout Europe — in countries that enacted extensive lockdown measures — are rising nearly as dramatically. Spain, France, Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands have all seen coronavirus caseloads spike between 40 and 200 percent, the latest WHO report noted.

“The seven-day rolling average of Sweden’s daily new cases has been dropping consistently since June 29. Its daily case count has been mostly decreasing since June 24, when it reported 1,803 new infections, its largest single-day spike since the outbreak began, according to data compiled by Worldometer,” Newsweek reported.

The most recent seven-day rolling averages of cases and deaths is 154 and 2, respectively.

Sweden does, however, rank eighth among countries in terms of coronavirus deaths per 100,000 people, higher than the U.S. and Brazil, the world’s hardest and second-hardest hit nations, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

In comments last week, Anders Tegnell, the chief epidemiologist at Sweden’s public health agency, rated his country’s coronavirus response sans a lockdown successful “to a great extent.”

“We have cut down on movement in society quite a lot,” he continued, noting that a national lockdown was never ordered, he told Swedish outlet UnHerd.

“We have compared how much we travel in Scandinavian countries, and the decrease in travel is the same in Sweden as in neighboring countries. In many ways the voluntary measures we put in place in Sweden have been just as effective as complete lockdowns in other countries.

“We are now seeing rapidly falling cases, we have continuously had healthcare that has been working, there have been free beds at any given time, never any crowding in the hospitals,” he added.

“The failure [of the strategy] has of course been the death toll…that has been very much related to the long-term care facilities in Sweden. Now that has improved, we see a lot less cases in those facilities.

Asked if a lockdown would have reduced cases and deaths, Tegnell said, “It would have made maybe some difference, we don’t know…we also have to look at what are the negative effect of lockdowns, and that has not been done very much so far.”

Photographs of Swedish citizens not social distancing or wearing masks as the country experiences its moderate summer abound, but then the country’s leaders and health officials were never that concerned about the virus.

“My respect for those who died, but we are doing something right here in Sweden,” Swedish citizen Johan Mattsson, 44, told The New York Times in April.

“I’m not seeing very different statistics in many other countries. I’m happy we didn’t go into lockdown. Life has to go on.”

“We’re clearly past the peak in Stockholm and our health care (system) has been able to handle it, we have extra beds in the hospitals and everybody has been treated that needs to be treated, even non-COVID patients have been able to get treatment,” Tegnell said in May.

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Re: Dramatic drop Covid in Sweden after never fully locking down [Re: Short] #544244
08/16/20 01:34 PM
08/16/20 01:34 PM
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Sweden’s success shows the true cost of our arrogant, failed establishment
Shocking incompetence has unnecessarily wiped billions of pounds from the UK economy

So now we know: Sweden got it largely right, and the British establishment catastrophically wrong. Anders Tegnell, Stockholm’s epidemiologist-king, has pulled off a remarkable triple whammy: far fewer deaths per capita than Britain, a maintenance of basic freedoms and opportunities, including schooling, and, most strikingly, a recession less than half as severe as our own.

Our arrogant quangocrats and state “experts” should hang their heads in shame: their reaction to coronavirus was one of the greatest public policy blunders in modern history, more severe even than Iraq, Afghanistan, the financial crisis, Suez or the ERM fiasco. Millions will lose their jobs when furlough ends; tens of thousands of small businesses are failing; schooling is in chaos, with A-level grades all over the place; vast numbers are likely to die from untreated or undetected illnesses; and we have seen the first exodus of foreigners in years, with the labour market survey suggesting a decline in non-UK born adults.

Pandemics always come with large economic and social costs, for reasons of altruism as well as of self-interest. The only way to contain the spread of a deadly, contagious disease, in the absence of a cure or vaccine, is to social distance; fear and panic inevitably kick in, as the public desperately seeks to avoid catching the virus. A “voluntary” recession is almost guaranteed.

But if a drop in GDP is unavoidable, governments can influence its size and scale. Politicians can react in one of three ways to a pandemic. They can do nothing, and allow the disease to rip until herd immunity is reached. Quite rightly, no government has pursued this policy, out of fear of mass deaths and total social and economic collapse.

The second approach involves imposing proportionate restrictions to facilitate social distancing, banning certain sorts of gatherings while encouraging and informing the public. The Swedes pursued a version of this centrist strategy: there was a fair bit of compulsion, but also a focus on retaining normal life and keeping schools open. The virus was taken very seriously, but there was no formal lockdown. Tegnell is one of the few genuine heroes of this crisis: he identified the correct trade-offs.

The third option is the full-on statist approach, which imposes a legally binding lockdown and shuts down society. Such a blunderbuss approach may be right under certain circumstances – if a vaccine is imminent – or for some viruses – for example, if we are ever hit with one that targets children and comes with a much higher fatality rate – but the latest economic and mortality statistics suggest this wasn’t so for Covid-19.

Almost all economists thought that Sweden’s economy would suffer hugely from its idiosyncratic strategy. They were wrong. Sweden’s GDP fell by just 8.6 per cent in the first half of the year, all in the second quarter, and its excess deaths jumped 24 per cent. A big part of Sweden’s recession was caused by a slump in demand for its exports from its fully locked-down neighbours. One could speculate that had all countries pursued a Swedish-style strategy, the economic hit could have been worth no more than 3-4 per cent of GDP. That could be seen as the core cost of the virus under a sensible policy reaction.

By contrast, Britain’s economy slumped by 22.2 per cent in the first half of the year, a performance almost three times as bad as Sweden’s, and its excess deaths shot up by 45 per cent. Spain’s national income slumped even more (22.7 per cent), and France’s (down 18.9 per cent) and Italy’s (down 17.1 per cent) slightly less, but all three also suffered far greater per capita excess deaths than Sweden. The Swedes allowed the virus to spread in care homes, so if that major failure had been fixed, their death rate could have been a lot lower still.

My guess is that only half of our first-half collapse in GDP would have happened under a variant of the Swedish model. This means that the other half – some £250 billion – was an unnecessary cost caused directly by the lockdown itself. The decision to shut everything down, rather than to impose and promulgate extensive social distancing, hygiene measures, ubiquitous PPE and testing, means that we have wasted a quarter of a trillion pounds worth of GDP, as well as needlessly ruined the education of millions of children and cancelled the health care of hundreds of thousands of adults. I suspect that this immense, unbearable additional cost saved very few additional lives, and that almost all of the gains came from social distancing, not the lockdown.

Some of the lost GDP will be recovered; the intangible costs of lockdown – the cancelled weddings and sporting events, the failed IVF cycles, the time not spent with family – will remain with us forever.

This is a catastrophically high price tag for the British state’s systemic incompetence, the uselessness of Public Health England, the deep, structural failings of the NHS, the influence of modelers rather than proper scientists, the complacency, the delusion, the refusal to acknowledge that the quality of the British state and bureaucracy are abysmally poor.

Even more depressingly, a Swedish approach was always unrealistic in Britain. Panic and hysteria were the only possible outcome when the failure of the system became apparent. I’m not seeking to absolve Boris Johnson of blame, but he would have found himself in an impossible situation had he sought to ignore the official advice, and he inherited few, if any, working levers to pull.

So what now? How should Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, reboot the economy? Sweden, once again, is a role model. After decades of socialist decline from the early Seventies, the Swedes slashed the size of their state (though it remains too big), liberalised their economy, reformed their schools along market principles and scrapped their counter-productive wealth tax.

They learnt that the state cannot drive prosperity: only the private sector can do that. The Tories used to understand this: Sunak needs to take inspiration from Tegnell, and push for a Swedish, liberal approach to saving our economy, trusting individual initiative, not resorting to a top down, Whitehall-knows-best attitude. HS2 and green projects are not the answer. The Conservatives will only survive their handling of Covid if they don’t also botch the recovery.

Live and let live
Swedish population nearing herd immunity to Covid-19 [Re: Short] #545022
09/19/20 04:16 PM
09/19/20 04:16 PM
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Sweden's coronavirus pandemic 'may be finished': Danish researcher

One of Denmark's most prominent epidemiology researchers has said that the coronavirus pandemic in Sweden "may be finished" due to immunity in the population, even through the country remains far from the classic 60 percent threshold.

"There are indications that the Swedes have gained an element of immunity to the disease, which, together with everything else they are doing to prevent the infection from spreading, is enough to keep the disease down," Kim Sneppen, professor of biocomplexity at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, told the Politiken newspaper.

According to figures collated by OurWorldinData, Sweden on Friday had registered a daily average of 23 cases per million people over the the preceding seven days, compared to 61 cases in Denmark and 20 in Norway.

Sneppen acknowledged, however, that the country had suffered a much higher death rate in April, May and June than that seen in Denmark.

"That is what they have paid. On the positive side, they may now be finished with the epidemic."

Sneppen, together with Lone Simonsen at Roskilde University, developed a model to explain the trajectory of the pandemic in Sweden and Denmark which emphasised the importance of 'superspreaders', a minority in the population who disproportionately spread the virus.

A study published by Tom Britton at Stockholm University in August estimated that if you assume that the most sociable and active members of society are the first to get infected, then threshold for full herd immunity might be as low as 43 percent of the population, far below the 60 percent to 70 percent that is the classic threshold in epidemiology.

"Just 20 percent immunity makes a pretty big difference, because those who were infected at the start of the epidemic were the most susceptible to the coronavirus and the most socially active,” Britton told Politiken.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Denmark's state epidemiologist Kåre Mølbak warned that Denmark was still in the "first wave of infection" because the wave in the spring did not have time to "develop completely because we went into hibernation".

Søren Riis Paludan, professor of biomedicine at Aarhus University, said that more and more evidence suggested that the Public Health Agency of Sweden may have been right in choosing to pursue a strategy that allowed for a controlled development of immunity.

"It can be argued that they chose the right solution, but they were poorly prepared for the strategy at the beginning and could not protect their vulnerable," he said.

But others said there was still a risk of further outbreaks in Sweden.

"I do not think that it can already be ruled out that Sweden will also have a flare-up like the one in Denmark," Allan Randrup Thomsen, professor of virology at Aarhus University, told the newspaper.

Live and let live
Swedish PM Makes Covid Plea in Historic National Address [Re: Short] #546429
11/23/20 11:00 AM
11/23/20 11:00 AM
Joined: Nov 2002
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Meanwhile in Sweden, things have taken a turn for the worse:

Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven used a rare Sunday night address to warn of the growing threat the coronavirus poses, amid fears the strategy used so far may not be enough to fight an increasingly deadly pandemic. In his Sunday speech, Lofven said “everyone must do more” to fight the virus. “The health and lives of people are still in danger, and the danger is increasing,” he said.

But Interior Minister Mikael Damberg said it’s still too early to draw conclusions about the Swedish strategy. “We see that large parts of Europe have been hit by the second wave,” Damberg said in an interview with public broadcaster SVT. “Our responsibility now is that Sweden is not drawn into a situation as serious as the other countries’.”

The government, however, appears to be acknowledging that measures to date have been inadequate. The message from the prime minister was similarly unequivocal on Sunday night: the respite from Covid-19 during the summer and the fall is over. ”Everything that you would like to do but that isn’t necessary, call it off, cancel, postpone,” he said.

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