In Sweden’s case, unlike the Trolley problem, there is no easy way to tabulate whether or not, in the long run, more lives are being saved, or lost, by their choice of inaction. In part this is because we simply do not know enough about the coronavirus to even have a sense of what percentage of the population would need to be exposed in order to achieve herd immunity. Instead, the Swedish government’s decision not to pull the lever and pursue a low-death approach has taken them into a tunnel.
From inside this tunnel we do not know how many people are now tied to the track. We do not know how far the line runs. Or even what the final destination looks like. Sweden’s strategic inaction was predicated on the hope that they might save lives in future by taking risks now and avoiding a shutdown.
That’s a large gamble based on very little scientific understanding.