A warning from Sweden's coronavirus response

For all the loss Swedes have endured, there has been no associated economic gain, which is what many claimed was the saving grace of the Swedish approach. According to the European Commission, Sweden’s economic forecast of a 6% reduction in GDP for 2020 is on par with its neighbors, Norway and Denmark who implemented much stricter lockdown measures.

Sweden’s story is a lesson for all of us around what happens when we pull back on social distancing and prudent epidemic control measures. Here in the United States, our epidemic control measures were already relatively relaxed, accounting for our near steady rate of about 20,000 newly diagnosed Covid-19 cases per day for more than two months.

The data from Sweden tells us what is likely to happen next—an ever-accelerating increase in the rate of infection followed by a rising death toll. That, in turn, is very likely to be followed by continued restrictions on public gatherings, school openings, and public confidence in our government’s ability to protect us.