By Jon Dougherty @TheNatSent
(TNS) Did you know there is actually a first-world, Global North country that is not currently on coronavirus lockdown at the moment, despite the fact that the pandemic has reached it?
It’s true. Sweden remains the only country in Europe resisting the urge by every other first-world government to shutter its economy over a virus outbreak that the government is not only managing but doing so openly and transparently.
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At present, according to Fraser Nelson, writing in New Zealand’s Stuff.co.nz, there are about 5,500 cases of the virus in-country, and nearly 300 deaths. Sweden has a large elderly population, so that is obviously a concern.
And it’s not as if no one is taking the virus seriously. People sorta, kinda do the social-distancing thing, but life is pretty much going on as normal. There are fewer people on the streets and more working from home, but that’s a choice; there are no government mandates. No businesses have been deemed ‘non-essential’ and ordered closed indefinitely, so Sweden isn’t experiencing a massive rise in unemployment.
Sports leagues are continuing; games are being played in stadiums with people in attendance. Sit-down restaurants are operating. Shops are open. Schools are open.
Fraser writes that the ‘experiment in coronavirus response,’ to the Swedes, is not taking place in their country but the rest of Europe and the first-world:
When I called a friend in Stockholm to ask about the Swedish experiment, he was on his way to a book launch. He’s still taking his sons to football matches and is proud that Sweden is keeping calm and carrying on. To him there is no Swedish experiment: it’s the rest of Europe that is experimenting – by locking down economies in response to a virus which may prove to be no more deadly than flu.
It’s not that Sweden is in denial. It has had 5466 confirmed cases, 282 deaths. Coronavirus has been found in a third of Stockholm’s (many) elderly care homes. But the debate there is still where the British debate was three weeks ago when the Prime Minister was resisting lockdown. This changed for Britain when Imperial College London published its study suggesting that avoiding lockdown could mean 250,000 deaths. This logic applies to Sweden – but the country of the Nobel Prize and the Karolinska Institute believes its own experts. They disagree with Imperial. They still see Covid-19 as a manageable risk.
The Swedes are right to disagree with the Imperial College ‘study,’ because it’s BS. Even the modelers have admitted that they were wrong, and by a lot.
You know what else isn’t taking place in Sweden? Politicians of rival parties aren’t trying to generate fear over the virus and then exploit it to advance a self-centered agenda.
In fact, as Nelson writes:
The face of Sweden’s response has been Anders Tegnell, the state epidemiologist, who has held daily press conferences. Politicians have taken a back seat. His team have published their own assessment of the virus and its likely trajectory, showing it peaking with about 250 needing intensive care in Stockholm. The nation’s hospitals, he says, can cope. A 600-bed temporary ward is opening tomorrow, south of the city – and when it does, a quarter of all intensive care beds will be used. So for now, no reason to impose any more restrictions.
He urges caution, and Swedes are responding. Sixth formers and university students are learning from home. Sports fixtures continue, but with spectators more spaced out. Online meet-ups are replacing real ones, elbow-bumping (remember that?) replaced handshakes long ago. A naturally cautious country is taking Tegnell’s advice.
Meanwhile, our resident expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is telling Americans he doesn’t understand why President Trump hasn’t ordered a nationwide lockdown. What the hell? What does Anders Tegnell know that Fauci doesn’t?
NBC News notes that the country’s leaders trust their citizens:
This country of 10 million has bucked the trend in Europe, where many countries have locked down their residents to slow the coronavirus that has spread throughout the world at breakneck speed.
The Swedish government has left it up to individuals to act responsibly and decide whether to stay home or not. Restrictions that are in place are far more liberal compared with those of the country’s neighbors.
Public gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited, but there are no restrictions on private meetings, meaning parties and corporate events can still go ahead. Libraries and swimming pools remain open.
Standing at bars has been prohibited, but restaurants are still able to offer table service. Students over 16 have been asked to study from home, but kindergartens and elementary schools are still open.
Rather than impose wide-ranging restrictions, authorities have instead advised the public to practice social distancing and to work from home, when possible, and urged those over 70 to self-isolate as a precaution. In other words, the country has staked its bets on people acting responsibly.
As of this writing, there are some 8,500 coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. There are about 289,000 active cases; about one-third of those are in New York State and New York City. On the low end, states like Wyoming, West Virginia, Alaska, The Dakotas, and Montana have fewer than 300 total cases.
Now again, the same virus that is in the United States and the rest of the world is also in Sweden, and yet, the Swedes remain unconvinced that COVID-19 is a planet killer.
Nelson also adds that the government of Sweden and Tegnell, in particular, are conducting their ‘experiment’ in the open, with facts, not with hyperbole and BS and fear:
Hospital data is published all the time, so Sweden’s “experiment” is being conducted in the open. Every time a patient is admitted, the data is updated on a COVID live website in striking detail. Average age: 60. Those with diabetes: 26 percent. With cardiovascular or lung disease: 24 percent. With at least one other underlying health condition: 77 percent. Sweden is also updating its statistics to say if someone died from COVID, or of something else – but with COVID. This might reduce the “death” figure by two thirds.
If Tegnell’s analysis proves wrong, the public will be able to see it unravel on his dashboard. In which case, he says, he stands ready to tighten things up. Sweden’s famous love of transparency – you can look up your neighbor’s salary online if you feel the urge – is being used as a tool to foster trust. So far, it’s working: polls show that three-quarters of Swedes support the strategy. The debate, overall, is very different from Britain’s. There is no shortage of epidemiologists in the Swedish press, backing Tegnell and denouncing the “desk-based theory” of the Imperial College study.
So, what’s the point here?
The point is, at some point, we have got to get a grip on rationality and understand that we cannot — we must not — allow this outbreak to destroy our economy and the social fabric of our country. Coronavirus is not that serious, as the Swedes are proving daily.
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