Covid-19 deaths in Sweden pass 3,000: Low deaths in Nordic and Visegrad nations

Covid-19 deaths in Sweden pass 3,000: Low deaths in Nordic and Visegrad nations

Sawako Uchida and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The nation of Sweden took a different approach to tackle the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis. Hence, people have greater freedom because restrictions are limited in comparison to other developed nations. However, with deaths being low throughout the Nordic region then is Sweden’s policy working?

Sweden’s population is roughly 10.2 million compared with the combined total of other Nordic countries being approximately 17 million. Yet, the combined deaths of Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, and Norway are much lower. Thus, 3,040 people have died in Sweden compared with the combined total of Nordic countries being 996 deaths.

If we compare deaths per million in the four sizeable nations of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden then more negativity appears. This relates to deaths per million being 301 in Sweden, 89 in Denmark, 46 in Finland, and 40 in Norway. Therefore, in terms of overall deaths in Sweden – and deaths per million – then this nation stands out negatively among Nordic countries.

If we compare Sweden with France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom then it would look different. Johan Giesecke, the influential epidemiologist in Sweden, is adamant that the lockdown is an abject failure. This relates to Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom where vulnerable people have died in huge numbers.

The BBC reports, Sweden’s strategy to keep large parts of society open is widely backed by the public. It has been devised by scientists and backed by government, and yet not all the country’s virologists are convinced.

Giesecke uttered, “It has become clear that a hard lockdown does not protect old and frail people living in care homes – a population the lockdown was designed to protect. Neither does it decrease mortality from Covid-19, which is evident when comparing the UK’s experience with that of other European countries.”

Anders Tegnell, the state epidemiologist of Sweden, said, “To a great part, we have been able to achieve what we set out to achieve… Swedish healthcare keeps on working, basically with a lot of stress, but not in a way that they turn patients away.”

However, this sounds hollow because fellow Nordic nations have functioning healthcare systems. Yet, unlike Sweden, the deaths are currently much lower.

Sweden is a Nordic nation and not bound by the geographic space that overlaps with heavily hit European nations. The Visegrad Group (V4) of Czechia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia also have low death rates, Hence, V4 nations compare favorably with other Nordic nations, not including Sweden. Therefore, Sweden is an anomaly when it comes to the low number of deaths in fellow Nordic nations and the V4.

Sweden appears to have given the coronavirus a chance to kill more people. Indeed, V4 nations that comprise of 64 million people have over 50 percent fewer deaths than Sweden. Thereby, the lockdown in V4 nations – just like in Denmark – worked because of early actions.

If individuals are focused on the economic angle and greater freedom then Sweden is a model. This entails that you accept high excess deaths.

Yet, what would the death toll be in Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom if this approach had been taken? After all, the number of deaths in Sweden is much higher than fellow Nordic nations.

Larger Nordic nations and V4 countries took early countermeasures to protect society. Hence, Sweden is correct to claim lockdown failed in the nations with the highest deaths in Europe. Equally, these nations have put enormous strains on their respective economies with little results, unlike Sweden. However, the gamble by Sweden fails when it compares with other Nordic and V4 nations.

The high death toll in Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom are based on their slow response to the crisis. Whereas in the geographic space of Sweden then thousands of excess deaths have happened.

Overall, the V4 and other Nordic nations come out with credit compared with Sweden. However, on the economic front – and the death toll – then Sweden compares better than France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

In truth, the unpredictability of coronavirus meant that no nation had a margin of error.


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