It was labeled risky, reckless, a mistake. Sweden has been at the center of many debates in recent weeks. Why didn't you chase the block relentlessly like everyone else? Are you doing the right thing?
Well, the Swedes themselves seem to think so, with overwhelming support for their government's decisions and advice from scientists.
This is not a divided country. And we must also make it clear that this is not a country that has done nothing. He banned large meetings, closed schools and universities, and told the elderly to isolate themselves.
But restaurants, bars, primary schools and most businesses are still open. The country has opened its strange path. And, in absolute terms, unfortunately, more people have died so far than their Nordic neighbors.
At the time of this writing, Sweden had 14,777 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,580 people died. If we compare this with Norway, which has half the population, there have already been 7,156 cases – or approximately half that of Sweden – and the much lower number of 181 deaths. Finland, which has a population similar to Norway, has seen 4,014 cases of COVID-19 and 98 fatalities.
In comparison, the virus has been almost ten times more deadly in Sweden, although it has only twice the population. However, hospitals were not overloaded; The figures available last week show that capacity is at 80% and the worst case estimates around infection and mortality rates simply did not occur.
This does not mean that there is no anger out there, mainly due to the lack of protection of older people. More than a third of the deaths were people living in nursing homes.
The impact of the coronavirus cannot be simply measured by its effect on health. Unsurprisingly, Sweden was less damaged economically. Personal spending in Denmark fell by 66% and in Finland by 70%, compared to just 30% in Sweden. Unemployment claims in Norway are increasing four times faster than those in Sweden. The general economy of the latter is not expected to fall to nearly the same degree as much of Europe.
And then there is the issue of so-called herd immunity. Studies over the weekend suggested that between 25% and 40% of Stockholm may already have the virus. It may reach 60% at the end of May. Currently, in France, it is believed to be around six percent.
Does this mean that Sweden will be better able to contain, stop or see less impact from the second or third waves when they inevitably come? Honestly, we don't know. It is not an exact science at the moment, we cannot predict the future. And it will be a long time before we can fully assess whether Sweden got it right or not.
Darren McCaffrey is the political editor for Euronews.
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