Given the escalation of trench warfare in the main COVID threads, I figured we may be able to keep the peace by starting up yet another thread. Here, those of us who think COVID is somewhere towards the bottom of the list of humanity’s problems can discuss the situation separately from those of us who think it’s in the top three.
I know it’s a bit weird to have people over in this corner glaring at the people over in that corner, but I suggest this is a far better situation than having people with wildly different views being corralled into the same corner. It’s not supposed to be an echo-chamber - even those of us who disagree with the whole COVID pantomime have differing views on why it’s gone wrong - but let’s try to keep it fact-based in here.
If it all turns to ratshit then maybe the mods can just lock the thread and we’ll accept that there is no discussion to be had. But let’s hope for the best.
To set the tone, a couple of observations on the situation in Sweden. Here’s an opinion letter in The Lancet in which the Swedish government is excoriated for letting people die en masse:
Over the last six months or so, the government has flirted with messaging similar to that deployed in Europe:
But mostly Anders Tegnell has stuck to the spirit of the Law in that country and issued only “guidelines”. Notice that this article, in common with the global shift-of-focus, talks only of cases. The fact is that Swedish COVID deaths are at an all-time low, with 14,600 recorded in total.
The case against Sweden is that Norway and Finland - which took a harder line, and are still imposing various forms of lockdown - recorded only 800 and 960 deaths respectively, equivalent to ~1800 deaths scaled to Sweden’s population, or a death rate of ~160 per million compared to Sweden’s 1370. This result, supposedly, is entirely due to their ‘strictness’, despite the fact that Denmark acted similarly to Finland and Norway, yet had a COVID death rate noticeably higher (~440 per million).
There are several ways of looking at this:
- Sweden’s COVID death rate was 5 times higher than its Nordic neighbours.
- Sweden had ~10,000 more deaths than its neighbours might have achieved.
- Sweden isn’t even in the top 30 of COVID death rates.
- Sweden’s all-cause mortality rate decreased in 2020 to its lowest level in living memory.
And which narrative do you think is being pushed by the media?
As recorded elsewhere, the vast majority of Sweden’s deaths were in the elderly cohort, suggesting very few life-years lost:
So are the fearmongers right? Should Sweden have done what others did, closing businesses, limiting travel, and enforcing restrictions? They could have saved 10,000 lives - or perhaps 20-40,000 life-years (being generous; the statistics suggest less).
Swedes are famously public-spirited, so let’s say each life-year has a value of 50,000 euros (a typical actuarial figure). The Swedish public could reasonably have been expected to give up 1.5 billion euros of income to save those lives. If a lockdown cost less than that, and saved 10,000 lives, it would be worth it.
Unfortunately, that’s only 150 euros per Swede - about two days’ average salary. Perhaps a week-long lockdown would have been a fair trade for 10,000 elderly lives. But it probably wouldn’t have done any good.
Of course the whole argument hinges upon the possibility that saving those lives was even possible via the magic of lockdowns. To me, the fact that Sweden stands alone in maintaining a sensible State policy is a shocking indictment of the Western obsession with prolonging life for no apparent purpose.