24 votes

Sweden has become the world’s cautionary tale

22 comments

  1. [11]
    stu2b50
    Link

    Ever since the coronavirus emerged in Europe, Sweden has captured international attention by conducting an unorthodox, open-air experiment. It has allowed the world to examine what happens in a pandemic when a government allows life to carry on largely unhindered.

    This is what has happened: Not only have thousands more people died than in neighboring countries that imposed lockdowns, but Sweden’s economy has fared little better.

    “They literally gained nothing,” said Jacob F. Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “It’s a self-inflicted wound, and they have no economic gains.”

    Per million people, Sweden has suffered 40 percent more deaths than the United States, 12 times more than Norway, seven times more than Finland and six times more than Denmark.

    13 votes
    1. [11]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. [7]
        Silbern
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Actually, it's better than you think. Sweden's average population density is 25 people per square kilometer, while the US has 35 people per square kilometer, which is a 71% increase. New York City...

        This is not a good comparison, it’s like looking at the Vatican and and seeing their crime rate and concluding that it’s a very dangerous place. We have one large city, which make 20% of o population, which happened to be the place of the largest outbreak. There are fewer deaths there by capita that in New York.

        Actually, it's better than you think. Sweden's average population density is 25 people per square kilometer, while the US has 35 people per square kilometer, which is a 71% increase. New York City has over 38,000 people per square kilometer, while Stockholm has only 4,800, which is a 1,260% increase. It's actually far more accurate to compare the US to Sweden in general, than it is to New York City vs Stockholm.

        But yeah, you hit the nail on per capita not being a useful metric. What so many people are forgetting is that per capita works when you have a linear relationship between population vs whatever your metric is. If you assume that doubling the population doubles the economy, then you can use that to compare even vastly different sized populations, by balancing out the disparities. But coronavirus doesn't increase linearly with population density, it increases exponentially, and that produces some massively lopsided measurements if you use per capita. It's still useful as a measure to say how likely you are to be infected, but not for measuring responses, since coronavirus becomes almost unbeatable once you have a critical mass of victims, and densely populated cities are inherently so much more likely to reach that.

        Honestly the reporting on Sweden in foreign media is making me completely lose my faith in international journalism. Usually it can be pretty bad which becomes apparent when you can read journalism in several different languages, but this is pathetic.

        Not that this is a contest, but as a Swede, you have easily one of the most favorable news coverages in the world. Tbh, more often than not, it's too positive - Sweden (and Nordic friends) tend to get a lot of credit for stuff even when the reality doesn't really back that up. At least compared to what we put up with as Mexicans, Americans, Brazileans, Indians, Chinese, etc. You really have it easy in how foreigners view you and how you're represented in international news.

        11 votes
        1. [6]
          ohyran
          Link Parent
          Tbh as a Swede I would love it if the world forgot us a bit. Actually mostly I would love it if the US forgot about us as we seem to be dumped in the divide between the two established US...

          Tbh as a Swede I would love it if the world forgot us a bit. Actually mostly I would love it if the US forgot about us as we seem to be dumped in the divide between the two established US political parties.

          We're either pooping gold and rainbows or there's sharia law and rapes everywhere and lately we are all dying. Etc etc etc. It's nice when people tell you "Oh I would love to be in Sweden" but then you realize they are having these insane expectations and you spend your time trying to temper them. Then you get told that you live in neighbourhood that is a "no-go zone" where the police don't go for fear of something - and you try to explain that "no its a middle class area with hippies and artsy people".
          Its a bit like being in an abusive relationship with the entire world.

          Having the US president consider your entire society a baseball bat in what he thinks counts as "debate" is even stranger.

          11 votes
          1. [2]
            Silbern
            Link Parent
            100% agree, I know exactly what you mean. I have some of my friends who wish the American public was more like Norway's on immigration, not realizing that Norway is actually quite conservative...

            100% agree, I know exactly what you mean. I have some of my friends who wish the American public was more like Norway's on immigration, not realizing that Norway is actually quite conservative when it comes to immigrants, and then you have the Fox news heads make up these ridiculous stories about Malmoe becoming a no go zone and stuff.

            It kinda reminds me of how the US was perceived back in the 90's - either this unrealistic bastion of opportunity and equality, when in reality we still had a lot of structural social inequality (though we were making considerable progress), or we were the evil capitalistic barbarians to the ex-USSR-and-company folks. Very little middle ground.

            That being said, I'm not gonna lie that I miss it. For annoying as it is when people hold some unrealistically positive expectations of what your home is like, it's better than hearing hurtful jokes about how stupid and third world your country and its' people are. And it's corrosive on our society internally, too - we're spending way too much time on self pity and moping around, and not on actually fixing all the stuff we keep claiming is an issue. Biden is going to be such a goddamn breath of fresh air, if / when he's elected this Fall.

            4 votes
            1. ohyran
              Link Parent
              Yeah... I mean in a way the internet helps. Or rather the closer personal connections on the internet helps. The ones where you can go "Oh its basically the same people there as here, and the...

              Yeah... I mean in a way the internet helps. Or rather the closer personal connections on the internet helps. The ones where you can go "Oh its basically the same people there as here, and the society is basically sort of the same as elsewhere." so you can separate society, people and government from each other and the prejudice surrounding it.

              (My dad held until his dying day that people from the US where fat, lazy, inherently racist, violent morons - having to yet another time explain that "no dad, I know several people from the US and they are basically just like us" was kinda frustrating)

              Plus its annoying how connected we still feel to our nation-state sense of self-worth? I mean I don't care, or wish I didn't, when people make up something about my home like "everyone is dying of corona there! Its a panic" but I still kinda do.
              The only thing I like is how Swedes react when people abroad smacktalk say Norway or Finland. Its like watching an annoying sibling get punched by someone else. People freak out in anger. (there was an article years and years ago about Norway, saying more or less the same shit we say about Norway. But it was a German magazine. The comments on the article was Swedes going "well screw you deutsche! We'll leave the EU if you don't like it you European asshat!" - the fact that it was something that could have been in a Swedish article was besides the point: we get to hate on Norway, not someone else!)

              5 votes
          2. [2]
            Kuromantis
            Link Parent
            Context? I agree with how media reports on Sweden like a utopia but I can't really see where to disagree with that portrayal. Unions work so well in Sweden that the government there doesn't even...

            Context? I agree with how media reports on Sweden like a utopia but I can't really see where to disagree with that portrayal.

            Unions work so well in Sweden that the government there doesn't even have to set a minimum wage.

            The Swedish Democrats, the far right xenophobic analogues of Sweden don't even oppose gay people (at least not the first 3 letters' worth of people) since support is at an astounding 95%. If you compare them to an asshole, "pooping rainbows" seems like a god-damned truism.

            The Gini index there is at like 0.24 (although to be fair, according to Wikipedia wealth inequality is higher)

            Corruption perception seems to be some of the lowest in the world

            Welfare state is yuge (Universal tax-paid Healthcare, although Wikipedia says it might be too decentralized, 480 days of paid parental leave, 3/4 babies age 1-5 go to a public daycare center according to Wikipedia)

            So where are the problems? Other than this map, nothing seems to be glaringly wrong with Swedish society.

            1 vote
            1. ohyran
              Link Parent
              First off a correction: our "minimum wage" system is based off of the perpetual conflict between worker union and employer union. So we can't have a minimum wage since that would destroy that...

              First off a correction: our "minimum wage" system is based off of the perpetual conflict between worker union and employer union. So we can't have a minimum wage since that would destroy that system (which creates a problem with the EU btw). Our society is constructed around that and many similar conflicts that arouse around 1917 and a way to handle that conflict.

              But "utopia" is a scary and dangerous proposition for any society to be told.
              Racism, sexism, homophobia etc still exists. Antiziganism is common. The police is a similar issue (baseball-gang in the 80's was the last actually direct example of a sub group within the police). Racial profiling is a thing. The defunding of our shared society is another issue. Since the 90's ideologically driven sales of public property and a focus on privatization have made our entire social security system about as stable as a marangue in a cupboard.
              Currently libraries are slowly becoming backup for social services and slowly collapse under the weight.
              Our system is slowly being defunded and crumbles under the weight of our EU membership. Leaving it would be worse though since our entire economy, unlike Norway and Finland, is trade connected in total. Our economy relies on a combination of diplomacy and trade. As we voted to be a part of only the trade union the slide toward the economic union and social/political union makes the conflict with the EU even worse day by day.

              Our core system of identification is handled by a foreign company through a proprietary solution. Without that our society collapses as our entire system of self-identification is based around that. Since politicians have an easier time to oversimplify technical issues this is often passed by.

              During the Covid crisis the government set up a system to be able override smaller local government areas to be able to set up "disaster relief" a complete break from the idea that the state should have as little control as possible (which is why you really can't do the quarantine thing here btw).

              Another issue is our self-view of being disassociated from things like racism and slavery. My generation grew up learning about slavery and colonialism as wholly US behavior (the conflict with the US was a big thing at the time) The fact that we profited immensely from colonialism and slavery is somehow forgotten. Sure technically we banned it early, BUT we also allowed "handling slaves". If you go to Ghana etc you can still see our forts where we "handled slaves" for others who owned them for a nice little fee.
              Our way of handling issues is very much "if we can't see it, we don't care" meaning we can allow horrible abuse of human rights as long as its far away.

              All this is often countered by people here saying "oooooh its wonderful here, read this article about what a utopia this is!" - THAT is the core issue. The idea that bad things can't be complained about unless you're at the very very bottom of a scale of issues.
              I don't believe in utopias as a theoretic ideal OR used as a casual rhetorical stance because it cripples the work to improve a society.

              We have issues, maybe some things are better than say the UK. The UK have issues but maybe some things are better than say the US. The US have issues but maybe some things are better than say Hungary. Hungary have issues but maybe some things are better than say Iran. Etc etc etc until no one gets to complain and try to improve because they are all utopias in comparison with everything else until we all reach say Norther Warlord controlled, total market-liberterian-nightwatchman-society of Northern Rural Somalia.

              2 votes
          3. NoblePath
            Link Parent
            Fwiw, slightly more than half of the voters here In the us are not in support of our president.

            Fwiw, slightly more than half of the voters here In the us are not in support of our president.

      2. [3]
        intuxikated
        Link Parent
        "Sweden put stock in the sensibility of its people as it largely avoided imposing government prohibitions. The government allowed restaurants, gyms, shops, playgrounds and most schools to remain...

        This is such a bullshit statement and is quite frankly insulting. Life has not gone on “largely unhindered”.

        "Sweden put stock in the sensibility of its people as it largely avoided imposing government prohibitions. The government allowed restaurants, gyms, shops, playgrounds and most schools to remain open. By contrast, Denmark and Norway opted for strict quarantines, banning large groups and locking down shops and restaurants." From the article, the article is comparing the lockdown with the rest of the world which is may be why he used the word largely unhindered and for someone from a country which has been in lockdown for months this doesn't seem like a major lockdown.

        This is not a good comparison, it’s like looking at the Vatican and and seeing their crime rate and concluding that it’s a very dangerous place

        I don't understand this analogy, what are you implying? Also if there were minor lockdown it can explain the decrease in spread of diseases which doesn't spread as rapidly as corona virus.

        4 votes
        1. [2]
          Loire
          Link Parent
          Per capita can have a tendency to break down sometimes when one of the subjects is significantly less populated than the other. In the case of the Vatican, because the city's population is 800,...

          I don't understand this analogy, what are you implying? Also if there were minor lockdown it can explain the decrease in spread of diseases which doesn't spread as rapidly as corona virus.

          Per capita can have a tendency to break down sometimes when one of the subjects is significantly less populated than the other. In the case of the Vatican, because the city's population is 800, any single crime that occurs there causes the per capita crime rate to explode.

          4 votes
          1. intuxikated
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            oh.. ok. I thought he was talking about under reporting. :(

            oh.. ok. I thought he was talking about under reporting. :(

            1 vote
  2. [6]
    mycketforvirrad
    Link
    Swedish Covid infections drop after steady distancing patterns Bloomberg, 7th July 2020

    Swedish Covid infections drop after steady distancing patterns
    Bloomberg, 7th July 2020

    Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s state epidemiologist, has maintained that his strategy will prove more sustainable in the long run than the sudden lockdowns and reopenings adopted elsewhere.

    “Part of the reason for Sweden’s less stringent approach was the view that restrictions would need to be in place for some time, and there were doubts about whether society would be compliant with stricter measures over a long period,” said Johanna Jeansson of Bloomberg Economics.

    “Sweden’s approach has been widely misrepresented as doing nothing. It’s not,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard’s School of Public Health in Boston. Though the death rate, especially among the elderly in nursing homes, has been very high, ultimately, “Sweden’s approach may be sustainable in ways other countries’ have not proven to be,” he said.

    8 votes
    1. [5]
      Loire
      Link Parent
      Was he right or was he right?

      “Part of the reason for Sweden’s less stringent approach was the view that restrictions would need to be in place for some time, and there were doubts about whether society would be compliant with stricter measures over a long period,” said Johanna Jeansson of Bloomberg Economics.

      Was he right or was he right?

      4 votes
      1. [4]
        ohyran
        Link Parent
        Time will tell.

        Time will tell.

        3 votes
        1. [3]
          Loire
          Link Parent
          On that specific topic? Time has told. Society wasn't compliant with strict restrictions on other nations after 2-3 months.

          On that specific topic? Time has told.

          Society wasn't compliant with strict restrictions on other nations after 2-3 months.

          4 votes
          1. [2]
            rosco
            Link Parent
            In the case of the US, most were compliant until restrictions were loosened.

            In the case of the US, most were compliant until restrictions were loosened.

            1. Loire
              Link Parent
              That wasn't what I saw in Texas or Louisiana but I'm sure blue states were a bit better.

              That wasn't what I saw in Texas or Louisiana but I'm sure blue states were a bit better.

              1 vote
  3. [5]
    eleitl
    Link
    Swedish Reddit user TenYearsTenDays regularly posts updates on the background of the Swedish dysfunction. Here's a post of his as of 9 hours ago...

    Swedish Reddit user TenYearsTenDays regularly posts updates on the background of the Swedish dysfunction. Here's a post of his as of 9 hours ago

    https://www.reddit.com/r/collapse/comments/hm51cf/weekly_sarscov2_megathread_july_06_2020/fxdiiwy/

    Wednesday July 8, 2020

    1. Viking Line stops selling Åbo cruises to Swedes

    Archive link: https://web.archive.org/web/20200708024509/https://www.dn.se/ekonomi/viking-line-slutar-salja-abokryssningar-till-svenskar/
    2. 16 elder care homes in western Sweden are criticized: "The infection went on like a wildfire."

    Archive link: https://web.archive.org/web/20200707100223/https://www.dn.se/nyheter/sverige/16-aldreboenden-i-vastsverige-kritiseras-smittan-drog-fram-som-en-lopeld/
    3. Severe decline in detected cancer cases

    https://www.dagensmedicin.se/artiklar/2020/07/02/kraftig-nedgang-i-upptackta-cancerfall/

    Archive link: http://archive.vn/yTJvS

    The severe strain on the Swedish healthcare system is making other diseases worse. Also affected are the other big killers heart disease and stroke. Probably more too.
    4. Warning when firefighters staff ambulances

    https://www.dagensmedicin.se/artiklar/2020/07/06/varning-nar-brandman-bemannar-ambulanser/
    5. Heavy load on the lab when more and more are being tested

    https://www.vardfokus.se/webbnyheter/2020/juli/hard-belastning-pa-labben-nar-allt-fler-testas/

    Another article about how Sweden's testing apparatus is not up to the task. This is bad news because if they can't fix this they can't transition to Test, Trace, Isolate.
    6. "Morphine has accelerated deaths in elderly corona patients in Sweden" - Nurse Sonja Aspinen talks about her shocking experiences

    https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-11433976

    A Finnish nurse blowing the whistle on what's been called the "active euthanasia" of Sweden's elderly.
    7. Doctors on emergency alert: "The chaos is back"

    https://www.svt.se/nyheter/lokalt/sormland/fler-soker-sig-till-akutvarden-igen

    Like most places, COVID cleared out waiting rooms of other paitents. Now that the pandemic is in decline in terms of death rates and ICU admissions (but not cases (part of the reason for the death decline is that the cases are among young people)), more people are heading to hospitals. This has created "chaos" and results in crowded waiting rooms with possible COVID patients and uninfected patients sharing the same space.
    8. Antibody tests in Västra Götaland this autumn

    https://www.gp.se/nyheter/v%C3%A4stsverige/antikroppstest-i-v%C3%A4stra-g%C3%B6taland-till-h%C3%B6sten-1.31004571

    More evidence of the overwhelmed testing infrastructure. I guess the good news is that the region will prioritize PCR over antibody tests. But it's embarrassing for a supposedly developed country like Sweden to not be able to get this right. Every other Nordic country has had their testing apparatuses up and running months ago now.
    9. A Global Comparison of Coronavirus Cases

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/06/briefing/a-global-comparison-of-coronavirus-cases.html

    Sweden is doing slightly worse than the US and Brazil in terms of cases, but Sweden actually tests less than the US does. Sweden is currently at the 49th spot in tests per million and the US is at 25. Brazil is much worse than either, at 103 or so. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
    Editorials, blog posts, etc.

    1. "Shreds Family and Friends Relationships"

    https://www.expressen.se/nyheter/coronaviruset/skar-sonder-relationer-mellan-familj-och-vanner/

    One of Sweden’s leading critical scientists, Björn Olsen, speaks out about how his critical stance has destroyed relationships due to how polarizing this issue is saying “After that article [his first critical one], it became like a hot knife that cut through butter, it severed relationships within families and between friends and colleagues.” He also says that Swedish state TV, SVT, stopped calling him. It’s been observed by many that SVT’s coverage has been… Obsequious for the most part (with some exceptions and getting better as time goes on).

    1. Norwegian criticism: "Giesecke should be more humble"

    https://www.svd.se/norska-kritiken-giesecke-borde-vara-mer-odmjuk

    Speaking of state media parroting the party line even Norway’s state epidemiologist called it out it was that bad (it’s gotten a bit better of late tbf).

    Forland believes that there is no critical debate in Sweden.

    I have been interviewed by several Swedish media and everyone asks questions about things that support Sweden's strategy. It feels like you want to support your own government and strategy. But Sweden goes against the whole world.

    This is an older op ed now but worth a read. Forland’s criticism of his Swedish counterparts is spot on.

    FWIW Giesecke, a former Swedish state epidemiologist and currently employed by FHM as an advior on the COVID-19 strategy, has disappeared of late. He is notorious for arrogance, and for his Unherd interview in which he outright stated that Sweden is pursuing herd immunity

    has somewhat disappeared of late.
    3. Johan Giesecke's millionaires - hides conflicts of interest

    https://www.expressen.se/nyheter/johan-gieseckes-miljonaffarer-doljer-intressekonflikter-/

    Archive link: http://archive.vn/ps1Ti

    Oh, speaking of Giesecke disappearing, after it came out that he has a gigantic conflict of interest in that his wife owns one of Sweden’s few respiratory rehab clinics he just poof disappeared. Maybe it was this, and maybe it was his herd immunity approach being discredited, and maybe it was all the ridiculous errors he’s made and the lie by omission he told by not stating he was a consultant to FHM while speaking publicly about the strategy, or some amalgam thereof but whatever it was he’s now quite off the radar. I guess maybe raking in the krona from all that respiratory rehab that needs to happen now?

    This is one of the things that drives me the most crazy about the Swedish situation: this came out and it was just a “oh whatever, that’s not technically illegal” lol. It was a non-issue. In Denmark, this would be front page news with at least the opposition screeching about it endlessly. In Sweden: crickets.

    3 votes
    1. [4]
      ohyran
      Link Parent
      Just to have that said - that user is fairly known to cherry pick the shit out of things and seem to be of the collapsist movement here. That doesn't make the links less relevant - but remember...

      Just to have that said - that user is fairly known to cherry pick the shit out of things and seem to be of the collapsist movement here.

      That doesn't make the links less relevant - but remember that cherry picking is going down hard there.

      8 votes
      1. [3]
        eleitl
        Link Parent
        He is certainly a part of Reddit's collapse community, which used to be great several years ago but since then declined to the point I haven't been subscribed there in years. Roger about...

        He is certainly a part of Reddit's collapse community, which used to be great several years ago but since then declined to the point I haven't been subscribed there in years.

        Roger about cherry-picking. For us non-Swedes any information about the situation there is an improvement over having basically no information at all.

        5 votes
        1. Adys
          Link Parent
          Let's say you know nothing about the past 100 years of human advances and you start reading. Thankfully, a helpful reddit user has compiled a list of links. And so you start reading their cherry...

          any information about the situation there is an improvement over having basically no information at all.

          Let's say you know nothing about the past 100 years of human advances and you start reading.

          Thankfully, a helpful reddit user has compiled a list of links. And so you start reading their cherry picked list which, for example, might contain all the spacecraft/rocket crashes and omit all the successful launches and the fact we went to the moon.

          Is that an improvement over nothing?

          5 votes
        2. ohyran
          Link Parent
          Oh I ment "collapsist" - basically "Everything is going to shit - hint it wouldn't if we elected some more strong-men politicians instead - here's a set of candidates" (although that part I don't...

          Oh I ment "collapsist" - basically "Everything is going to shit - hint it wouldn't if we elected some more strong-men politicians instead - here's a set of candidates" (although that part I don't know, but he sure does repost their talking points to a T)

          News about Sweden... well basically its pretty much like everywhere else, our death rates are slightly higher and the issue is if that is justified by other factors and if not what should be done instead. Our numbers are going down it seems, but its still too early to tell.
          Reading the news is like getting slapped by two different people on two different cheeks and not knowing why. One day WHO hates us, the other WHO agrees with us. One day its we're all gonna die, the other is we're all gonna die because the lawchanges needed for quarantines would destroy 130 years of progress.

          The hospitals are back to well below 'red' in possible support now, the extra wings constructed are being packed away. So as long as there is no insane peak up ahead things can chug along as long as we don't break guidelines (Wash your hands, minimize contact, no large crowds, stay 6ft apart if possible, be extra careful around people in the risk groups).

          The future will be complex. The guess is that our numbers raised quickly because of misses in the care for the elderly homes. When the disease got there it spread like wildfire. Since at a certain age and ailments you don't get the same care for diseases as when you're younger, death tolls rose.
          BUT if thats the whole story no one knows.
          Will the political fallout be that our entire set of baselaws shift to one where quarantines can be established like in Norway and who would drive that through? Already we've pushed through one change that will have effects in the future. Will our country try to centralize its decision process out of the hands of county's and communes? What will that do to the fundaments of our democratic system? Will the militarys ban from participating in civilian affairs lift? To what cost? etc etc

          But that will be for the future. Personally I follow the FHM guidelines as best I can, and I guess that goes for most of us here.

          3 votes