The progressive left loves pointing to Scandinavia for reference on how to approach the alleged shortcomings of America’s capitalist system.
But unlike with the “Nordic model” of economics, the left isn’t as quick to embrace one Scandinavian country’s practice that’s been different from our own — namely, its pandemic response.
Sweden continues to tout some of the lowest COVID infection rates we’ve seen, despite minimum public activity restrictions, unlike those we’ve seen at home in the U.S., but will our authoritarian officials ever acknowledge it?
The Swedish government’s decision to keep the country operating with minimum disruption received immense backlash from COVID extremists across the spectrum during the early days of the pandemic.
Cecilia Söderberg-Nauclér, a virus immunology researcher at the Karolinska Institute, said last year that Sweden’s pandemic response was “leading [the country] into catastrophe,” according to The Guardian.
In July 2020, CBS labeled the country “an example of how not to handle COVID-19”; in October, Time labeled Sweden’s COVID model a “disaster”; and Knowable Magazine just last month chalked up its “COVID failure” to “ageism.”
Because, of course, right?
Despite such vehement criticism, Sweden’s pandemic response remained much laxer than America’s.
In fact, recommendations listed on the country’s official COVID webpage tell all: “stay home if you’ve got symptoms,” “keep a distance to others” and “avoid public transport if possible.”
Sweden enforced a mild range of temporary pandemic restrictions at various points, including indoor capacity restrictions for restaurants and gyms, proof of a negative COVID test for entry into the country and maximum capacities for indoor and outdoor venues.
Still, it paints a different image than the one in America.
Schools and businesses remained open. Tourists were (and still are) welcomed. Masks aren’t even recommended — let alone required.
Now that hindsight is 20/20, we face a question: How did Sweden’s policies fare against our own?
After nearly a year and a half of the Nordic nation’s minimal shutdowns and the fixations of the United States — and other countries — on business closures, mask mandates and stay-at-home orders, Sweden appears to be doing much better than most of its European counterparts — and better than the U.S.
As recently as February, research showed that Sweden’s COVID-19 intensive care mortality rate remained lower than what studies indicated for other European nations.
Numbers show that Sweden also experienced a lower increase in mortality rates than most other European nations in 2020, according to Reuters, with a 7.7 percent rise in deaths from the previous four years leading up to the pandemic.
Strict lockdown countries like Spain and Belgium? They had excess mortality rates of 18.1 percent and 16.2 percent respectively.
“Twenty-one of the 30 countries with available statistics had higher excess mortality than Sweden,” the wire service reported. However, there is a bit of bad news for Sweden.
“Sweden did much worse than its Nordic neighbours, with Denmark registering just 1.5% excess mortality and Finland 1.0%. Norway had no excess mortality at all in 2020,” Reuters added.
Regardless, despite minimally restrictive policies, we don’t really see the catastrophic results scientists, establishment media cronies and cynics originally predicted.
Just two weeks ago, Sweden boasted that its daily deaths from COVID-19 had finally reached zero and, according to the Foundation for Economic Education, they’ve stayed there since.
Meanwhile, its European counterparts brace for bolstered restrictions similar to the ones up for discussion here in the U.S.
And, unsurprisingly, we’re now seeing sources backtrack their claims and search for excuses, including why Sweden’s pandemic response couldn’t possibly be as effective in the United States.
Of course, this isn’t to say that Sweden was without its pandemic troubles. At a few points, the country experienced surges in its rate of infection (as expected) — you can see that much in graphs from Our World in Data — and at one point Sweden even toppled the U.S. and other European nations with the highest deaths per capita (albeit, this pertains to a one week range from May 2020).
Another damning fact for us? These same graphs, when adjusted to compare “fully vaccinated” persons in the United States and Sweden, indicate that the U.S. has a larger percentage of fully vaccinated residents and our rate of infection still ranks higher (relative to population, of course).
Despite it all, we see the effects of coexisting with the pandemic instead of cowering in its presence as we’ve done.
Should we have done things differently in the U.S.? I would argue yes, even the first time around, but it’s especially insane to call for a second round of the same restrictions that didn’t work the first time.
Then again, we don’t always choose the greatest path.
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