Sweden’s so-called “herd immunity strategy” has been equated with a callous nonstrategy, but that isn’t accurate — Swedish authorities looked at the facts and made a different judgment call. The Washington Post had to run a correction taking back an assertion that Sweden hadn’t encouraged social distancing or mask-wearing. They have. Their policy is to discourage spread of the disease without resorting to a national lockdown.
Many Americans might find reprehensible the Swedish government’s decision to put such a high priority on personal freedom and various economic activities, but that’s a political and not a scientific judgment. Atlas, the Trump advisor, has also put a high priority on schools and business openings. “The harms of prolonging the lockdown are enormous,” he said in an interview that ran over the weekend in the Wall Street Journal.
The problem in the U.S. is not that our strategy ignores science; it’s that we have no strategy at all. By failing to devise any coherent national strategy, and relying on a patchwork of state regulations, we’re deferring to chaos and discord. Science can’t fix this for us — except to make rough projections of the way various courses of action will play out.