We already know how the United States has decided to handle the coronavirus pandemic. States are going on lockdown. Stay at home. Social distancing. And both schools and businesses are shuttered all across the country or operating on a limited basis at best. Not so in Sweden. Unlike nearly every other country in the EU, their children are still attending school, businesses remain open and public parks and playgrounds are as crowded as ever. They are counting on herd immunity to give them long term protection in exchange for some short term risks. (Telegraph)
Swedish children continued to pour through the gates of their schools and kindergartens on Thursday as the Nordic nation stood increasingly alone in Europe in its approach to tackling the coronavirus pandemic.
Shops and restaurants also remained open across the country, with parks and recreational areas packed with groups enjoying the spring sunshine.
Despite a surge in Covid-19 patients and growing dissent among epidemiological experts, the Swedish government’s medical experts were last night standing by their decision not to follow almost all other EU nations by instituting economic and social lockdowns.
So how is that working for them thus far? Sweden is still in the relatively early stages of having the virus sweep over the nation, but the curve is beginning to climb for them. One Twitter user posted a graph showing the progress of the disease in terms of deaths for both that nation and a couple of their neighbors.
Sweden took a laissez-faire approach to COVID-19 while their neighbors shut down public life and sealed the borders. It looks like we're finally seeing the results. (Graph is cumulative deaths: Sweden yellow, Denmark red, Norway blue; screenshot from /r/Denmark) pic.twitter.com/Jg1qfqo1Ei
— Connor Harris (@cmhrrs) March 30, 2020
As you can see from the graph above, over the past week alone the death toll has been starting to climb in all three countries. Norway is faring the best, with a total of just over 30 lives lost as of yesterday. Denmark is doing slightly worse, with just under 80. But Sweden is leading the pack by a wide margin with almost 150.
Now, it’s worth noting that both Denmark and Norway have roughly half the population (around 5 million) that Sweden does (a little over 10 million). And Denmark’s population is considerably denser, being packed into a much smaller geographic area. So you might expect Sweden’s numbers to be a bit higher. But the slope on the yellow line in that graph has got to be worrisome for them.
Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s state epidemiologist, is still defending the government’s decision to hold off on any restrictive measures, citing the Public Health Agency of Sweden’s ability to offer expert advice and the government’s hesitancy to override them. But at the same time, he admits that if things go very badly for them as happened in Italy, he will certainly be among those to take the blame.
This brings us back to the ongoing debate we’ve been having in the United States. We repeatedly hear contradicting claims from people who are supposed to be experts in the field. When looking at the speakeasies currently operating in Manhatten, one doctor claimed that epidemics of respiratory ailments pass quickly, and once 80% of the people have contracted and recovered from the disease, the crisis has passed. Other health officials caution that such a theory may be true, but the American body count will be well into the millions if we did that and it could take all year for the wave to wash over the entire country.
The bottom line is that Sweden has chosen a very different course from America and most of Europe. It may prove to be the laboratory where we see how effective that method is as compared to nations that are locking down their populations and shutting down their economies. We can only pray that the body count for their experiment doesn’t turn into a complete catastrophe for them.
Meanwhile, on the lighter side of the apocalypse news this week, there’s another country refusing to go into lockdown mode because of the virus, but the cure being suggested there is a little more “out there.” The President of Belarus apparently thinks vodka and saunas will stop the virus. (NY Post)
The president of Belarus is insisting that vodka and saunas will cure the coronavirus — while claiming nations that have gone into lockdown are in the throes of a “psychosis,” according to reports.
President Alexander Lukashenko has insisted the Eastern European nation of nearly 9.5 million remain open for business — and even took part in a packed ice hockey match on Saturday.
“It’s better to die standing than to live on your knees,” he said, quoting the Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, and calling sports “the best anti-virus remedy.”
Vodka? Well, it’s better than swimming pool sanitizer I suppose. But even though I’m no doctor, nor do I play one on television, I’m a bit dubious about this plan. Time will tell. For all we know, Lukashenko may wind up looking like a genius. But I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.