COVID19: has Sweden Screwed up?
I quote from an article that appeared in the NZ Herald 22nd October:
"Coronavirus cases have exploded in Sweden as authorities try to keep hold of twin battles – containing the virus and controlling the narrative."
"The breakaway Nordic nation divided experts by refusing to lock down its citizens when the virus swept through the country this year."
"But a devastating second wave has forced a dramatic rethink, as infections threaten to derail any gains that were achieved by taking a now notoriously relaxed approach to the pandemic."
We are getting conflicting messages out of Sweden, such that people are being left in a state of confusion. What is the truth? Or it might be better to ask: "Where does the weight of evidence appear to be pointing?"
Please refer to the chart below:
"In the midst of the tragic and serious global corona pandemic, the deaths per capita in September 2020 were the lowest ever in Swedish history. Never before have so few died in Sweden in a single month so far back there are statistics, regardless of the month of the year."
"From January to September 2020, Sweden experienced 675 deaths per 100,000 population. That is less than both 2017 and 2018. In fact, 2020 is so far the third least deadly year in Swedish history."
To continue quoting Dr Rushworth:
"What is my point? If you are old and frail, and have underlying health conditions, then even that most harmless of all infections, the so called common cold, can be deadly. In fact, it often is. Covid-19 is not a unique disease and does not appear to have a noticeably higher mortality rate than the so called common cold."
I corresponded with Dr Rushworth yesterday and today about this apparently "devastating" 2nd wave in Sweden. I'll take his word over that of a newspaper reporter, since he is a doctor working on the frontline in Sweden.
My conclusions from the current weight of evidence are three key points:
Sweden is apparently doing well, although it is still too early to be talking in absolutes about their success.
Many experts and media are keen, bordering on desperation, to discredit Sweden, or else to ignore it when discussing the impact and responses to COVID19.
Sweden's experience teaches us we must redouble our efforts to protect the elderly and the frail from all infections and not just COVID19.
What might this protection comprise?
Healthy individuals voluntarily exposing themselves to viruses such as influenza and COVID19, to build up herd immunity.
When a vaccine is available and proven safe, encourage the voluntary vaccination of the immune-vulnerable and anyone else who wants the protection it offers.
Protective measures including voluntary quarantining of the vulnerable during an infectious outbreak and the administration of prophylactic medicines.
Addressing all measures of poverty within NZ, including housing, household income and food quality. Improved access to community-based medical services.
Improving the nutritional status of the entire population so that there is greater immune robustness. Measure may include a sugar tax and removing taxes on fresh fruit and vegetables.
You may note that I use the word "voluntary" with medical procedures, including vaccination. In a free society, the right to refuse a medical procedure, including medication, is a fundamental human right, no matter the circumstances.
For more information about COVID19, including my escape plan for New Zealand: