Saturday 30 May 2020

Sweden's Covid-19 death toll per capita is now 4 times bigger than Denmark's and 8 times bigger than Norway's

I decided about a month ago, based on comparisons between Sweden and Denmark, that as a very rough rule of thumb deaths with, not by any means necessarily of, the virus would have been three times higher without a lockdown, the average age of the decreased being eighty. I also saw that having taken care with care homes would have reduced the number considerably.

A month ago Sweden had three times more Covid-19 deaths than Denmark. She now has four times more but Sweden has eight times more deaths per capita than Norway, which is a much, much bigger difference. 

It's the reason why the last Swedish State Epidemiologist, who had backed her successor's policy, has recently changed her mind about it. 

Does this change my mind about lockdowns?

Not for Sweden, because the purpose of lockdowns was to prevent hospitals being overwhelmed and in Sweden they were not. 

Nor will huge numbers of people die in Sweden. The number dead with the virus in Sweden is very unlikely to exceed 5,000 out of 10 million. Many of these deaths were not caused BY the virus and many or most could have been prevented had care homes been isolated and care home workers properly equipped and guided as to what to do. 

Half the people in Sweden who died were eighty or over, as in many countries (but not in the USA where the median age is 70). In Sweden about two thirds were in care homes, much more than in France where half were or Britain where a third were. (Swedes were certainly very negligent about old people's homes but it might also mean the Swedes record deaths in care homes more accurately or it might mean they count too many deaths as with COVID-19.)

Fraser Myers in Spiked says:
Originally, the aim of lockdown was to ‘flatten the curve’ — that is, slow the spread of the virus sufficiently to avoid overwhelming hospital capacity. This horror scenario was the key justification for the suspension of civil liberties and the decimation of our economies. But in Sweden, this has not happened.
However, since the lockdowns began, the goalposts have been moved. Now lockdowns are promoted as a means for reducing cases and deaths outright. And even on these dishonest new terms, Sweden’s results are pretty average: whether in terms of raw numbers or taken per capita, it currently falls below the UK, France, Italy and Spain, all of which had lockdowns. At the time of writing, just over 4,000 people have died.

In fact, the head of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), now recognises that Norway should not have had a lockdown.

But since eight times more people have died with the virus in Sweden than in Norway, does this mean eight times more people would have died in other countries that had lockdowns had they copied the Swedish model? That would mean over 300,000 deaths in the UK and 800,000 deaths in the USA.

I do not think so, for these reasons. First although Sweden has eight times more deaths per capita she has four times as many as Denmark. Then Professor Carl Heneghan of Oxford has shown that the peak of the UK’s infections came a full week before Boris Johnson initiated lockdown on March 23rd. Incidentally, Lyman Stone has shown that infections with the virus also began to fall in France and Spain before the lockdown. 

300,000 in the UK would exceed the estimate by Professor Ferguson of 250,000 deaths if a lockdown were not imposed. He added that two thirds of those people would have died anyway.

I think it is helpful to consider deaths in old people's homes and elsewhere separately and find out how each country has dealt with each category. Sweden, where eugenics was so popular until fairly recently, and New York City were very careless about lives in old people's homes. 

It's not Lutheranism that's to blame for Swedish laissez-faire attitudes. The Norwegians have been much more careful and caring. 

I thought Sweden provided a slam-dunk argument against lockdowns, but it is all much more complicated than it seemed a month ago.

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