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Many of us held out hope that Sweden with its contrarian approach to COVID-19 would validate our beliefs that you give people information, give them the freedom to make decisions, and survive the pandemic as best you can. There were early hopes that Sweden had made it through and that its approach would be deemed superior to authoritarian government responses to the pandemic.
Now, that is no longer clear. There are reports that the Swedish government is becoming restive with the laissez-faire approach of chief heath officer Andres Tegnell. My understanding is that under the Swedish constitution, Tegnell operates with unusual independence. This has allowed politicians to absolve themselves of responsibility and avoid electoral consequences for Tegnell’s action (or inaction). But now that the death toll is rising in Sweden associated with COVID-19, politicians are getting worried. So there is pressure for Sweden to get in line with authoritarian responses to COVID-19 practiced elsewhere in Europe.
Someone with greater capabilities than myself needs to do a deep dive into Sweden’s data. Do they suffer from some of the same problems that US data suffers: CDC guidance on designating deaths as COVID deaths whenever the virus is present, questions on whether “excess deaths” exist when other causes dip from prior years as COVID deaths replace them, testing protocols that generate false positives? Are younger people dying in Sweden at higher rates than previously?
And, of course, there is the greatest unknown: is this virus engineered? And if so, what does that mean for strategies to contain/combat it?
We need Sweden to stay the course. This is the closest thing we have to a controlled study about alternative approaches to combatting COVID-19 consistent with overall societal well-being. If we lose Sweden we lose important information for future pandemics. And there will be more. The value of pandemic to authoritarian government is too great to resist.
[Note: Links to all my COVID-19 posts can be found here.]Published in