That was one of the more extraordinary interviews we have done here at UnHerd.
Professor Johan Giesecke, one of the world’s most senior epidemiologists, advisor to the Swedish Government (he hired Anders Tegnell who is currently directing Swedish strategy), the first Chief Scientist of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, and an advisor to the director general of the WHO, lays out with typically Swedish bluntness why he thinks: FULL STORY HERE: https://www.4cmitv.com/2020/04/21/2020-apr-17-why-lockdowns-are-the-wrong-policy-swedish-expert-prof-johan-giesecke/
■ UK policy on lockdown and other European countries are not evidence-based
■ The correct policy is to protect the old and the frail only
■ This will eventually lead to herd immunity as a “by-product”
■ The initial UK response, before the “180 degree U-turn”, was better
■ The Imperial College paper was “not very good” and he has never seen an unpublished paper have so much policy impact
■ The paper was very much too pessimistic
■ Any such models are a dubious basis for public policy anyway
■ The flattening of the curve is due to the most vulnerable dying first as much as the lockdown
■ The results will eventually be similar for all countries
■ Covid-19 is a “mild disease” and similar to the flu, and it was the novelty of the disease that scared people.
■ The actual fatality rate of Covid-19 is the region of 0.1%
■ At least 50% of the population of both the UK and Sweden will be shown to have already had the disease when mass antibody testing becomes available
BUSINESS INSIDER :
Business Insider Headline: Sweden has nearly 10 times the number of COVID-19-related deaths than its Nordic neighbours. Here’s where they went wrong.
□ Sweden, which has yet to order any lockdown amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, has seen 14,777 COVID-19 cases so far, and 1,580 deaths from the virus.
□ The virus has been more nearly ten times more deadly in Sweden than other Nordic countries.
□ Norway, which has half as many people, has seen 7,127 cases, and just 181 deaths, and Finland, which has a population similar to Norway’s, has seen 3,868 COVID-19 cases and 94 deaths.
□ Charts released by Pantheon Macroeconomics show that Sweden’s cases have yet to plateau, while Norway’s case count appears to be on a downslide.
Sweden’s controversial coronavirus strategy has led to nearly ten times the number of deaths of other Nordic countries, and it serves as counter-argument to US citizens who are calling for the country to re-open.
Sweden has yet to order any lockdowns amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to AFP. The country has left schools, restaurants, and gyms open, and while the government banned gatherings over 50 people and urged residents to self-isolate, life appears to be mostly unchanged.
Sweden’s lack of strict lockdowns is in contrast to the rest of Europe, and it has yet to see a downturn in COVID-19 cases. The country, which has a population of 10.23 million, has seen 14,777 cases so far, and 1,580 deaths from the virus.
Sweden’s Nordic neighbours, Norway and Finland, approached the virus differently, and it could be why they’re facing just a fraction of COVID-19-related deaths
Norway went into lockdown in mid-March, closing schools, restaurants, cultural events, gyms, and tourist attractions. It also banned outside travellers. Finland, which has been stockpiling medical supplies since the Cold War, restricted border traffic, banned gatherings of 10 or more people, and closed schools as part of its coronavirus guidelines.
Norway, which has only 5.368 million people, has seen 7,127 cases, and just 181 deaths. Finland, with a population of 5.5 million, has seen 3,868 COVID-19 cases and 94 deaths.
Anders Tegnell, the state epidemiologist who created Sweden’s relaxed coronavirus response plan, told local media that the country’s fatality rates show the spread of the virus is starting to “plateau,” according to Bloomberg.
Charts released by Pantheon Macroeconomics, however, contradict Tegnell. Sweden’s COVID-19 cases appear to still be rising, and Norway’s appear to already be on a downslide.
Bo Lundback, professor of epidemiology at the University of Gothenburg, told Agence Frances-Press that a change needs to happen.
“The authorities and the government stupidly did not believe that the epidemic would reach Sweden at all,” he said.
About 2,300 academics signed an open letter last month calling for Sweden to reconsider its approach to the virus, according to Fox News.
Cecilia Soderberg-Naucler, a professor at the Karolinska Institute who signed the letter, told Fox News: “We must establish control over the situation, we cannot head into a situation where we get complete chaos. No one has tried this route, so why should we test it first in Sweden, without informed consent?”
Swedes, so far, have been refraining from travel, according to Bloomberg, and Foreign Minister Ann Linde said in an interview with Radio Sweden that its rules “affect the whole society,” according to Bloomberg.
While Sweden has had more COVID-19 deaths than Finland and Norway, HSBC Global Research economist James Pomeroy told Bloomberg that Sweden’s COVID-19 strategy might help its economy bounce back more quickly than it will in other countries because businesses were able to remain open.
“While Sweden’s unwillingness to lock down the country could ultimately prove to be ill-judged, for now, if the infection curve flattens out soon, the economy could be better placed to rebound,” he said.
Original Source: Date-stamped: 2020 APR 21 | Time-stamped: 7:04 AM | Author: Kelly Mclaughlin | Article Title: Why might Sweden's COVID-19 policy work? Trust between citizens and state | Article Link: businessinsider.com.au
Business Insider Headline: Why might Sweden’s COVID-19 policy work? Trust between citizens and state
The pandemic is a huge test for nation states – and success or failure depends on pre-existing values
That coronavirus is colour blind and respects no borders is true enough, although far from being the great equaliser, it forces the poor to bear the brunt. And given the prominent role played by experts in epidemiology who speak in a universalising language of objective science and mathematical curves, attempts at containing or mitigating the spread of Covid-19 sound similar around the world.
Yet the responses differ significantly from country to country, even among richer countries; shaped by historical legacies, political culture and social mores. The Swedish historian Sverker Sörlin, himself a Covid-19 survivor, noted in a recent article that there was never just one global pandemic but many, each shaped by its own national logic. Sörlin was building on William H McNeill and his classic Plagues and Peoples from 1976, in which McNeill tried to show that epidemics mirrored each affected society. There is not a universal biological enemy waging war, these global viruses strike societies, as much as the individuals within them.
Indeed, the pandemic constitutes a huge stress test for countries, a test that brings to the surface their deep, sticky societal structures. Values, institutions and practices, that in ordinary times are partially hidden by global fashions and trends, come to the fore, protruding as safe rocks in a stormy sea.
For us – a repatriated Swede who spent 40 years living abroad, and a self-exiled Turk who has lived in Sweden but is now based in Spain – cultural collisions are a touchstone of our efforts to understand both global commonality and national difference.
We’ve always had our differences, but with coronavirus, we’ve also found ourselves subject to very different European pandemic regimes.
Spain, one of the worst affected countries in Europe, imposed a strict lockdown to slow the spread of the virus and ease the burden on already overcrowded hospitals. Confinement was not a matter of personal choice; social distancing became the law of the land and a matter of surveillance and policing.
Sweden opted for a calmer – and highly controversial – approach led by the state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell. Instead of draconian lockdown, social distancing is a matter of self-regulation. Citizens were instructed to use their judgment, and to take individual responsibility within a framework that rested on mutual trust, rather than top-down control.
We were both convinced that the “Swedish model” could not be exported to countries such as Spain or Turkey, where levels of social and institutional trust are much lower. But could it work in Sweden itself? And why did Sweden choose to stray from the path followed by the many, including its Nordic neighbours? Here, our views diverged.
The itinerant Turk (also a Swedish citizen) was convinced that Tegnell’s approach was far too lax – considering the health risks involved – even for high-trust Sweden, where personal independence, including among the elderly, is cherished. In any case, lockdown was not only a matter of saving lives, but also mitigating the workload of overcrowded hospitals. The repatriated Swede, on the other hand, believed that an all-out war to save individual lives involved huge costs to the social fabric – beyond the health versus economy debate. So we decided to shift our attention to the societal consequences of different paths chosen.
For Sweden, a total lockdown was unsustainable in the long term. If schools and pre-schools were closed, for instance, parents would have to leave work to home-school. This would potentially make matters worse by removing workers in critical sectors such as healthcare, or exposing grandparents to the disease, not to mention depriving children of crucial time in school.
In a society where gender equality and children’s rights are paramount, these risks understandably touched a raw nerve. Lockdown might work for the middle and upper classes with comfortable houses, especially in societies with more traditional gender norms. In Sweden, schools are key institutions not least for disadvantaged children, and single and/or low-earning parents.
This raises the question of whether policy choices across the world are made on strictly rational, scientific grounds, or if they reflect culturally rooted constraints and possibilities. Take social distancing: it now appears to be an internationally shared goal. The crucial choice is between achieving it through commands backed up by threats of fines and arrests, or though recommendations that appeal to a sense of a shared individual responsibility.
In Sweden, the path chosen may be less draconian but it is possibly more demanding, since it shifts the burden from laws and policing to self-regulation. While social media memes at times suggest an endless after-ski party afoot in the hipster joints of Stockholm, for those of us who live here the reality is a more sombre balance between distancing and the remaining freedoms to move about and carry on a normal life, while supporting local businesses.
And to be sure, even in Sweden there are many who call for a more radical closure of society. It may yet come to that. But others continue to plead for continued calm, reminding us that the word for society in Sweden is samhälle, to hold together. They worry that the stricter measures entail the privatising of suffering by justifying social closure.
The Swedish experiment, however, clearly touches a raw nerve abroad. The choice though is not simply between individual freedom and authoritarian rule. In Spain, lockdown measures also enjoy broad popular support, and security forces spend more time organising ad hoc birthday parties for the elderly than issuing fines. But there too, voices of dissent are raised as the societal consequences of the confinement become clearer. “Free our children!” said Ada Colau, the leftwing mayor of Barcelona, in a Facebook post on 15 April, paradoxically just before the Madrid government declared that schools would not be reopened this term.
There is no doubt that what we will see – globally, in the wake of the coronavirus crisis – is the return of the state. The question is what state.
For the likes of Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, who are busy exploiting the pandemic to further cement their authoritarian rule, the answer is clear: less liberalism and less democracy. But both the Swedish and Spanish examples show us, in their own way, that another answer is possible: the rollback of neoliberal democracy and the return of the social democratic welfare state.
And here we agree with Sörling. It is wise to respect citizens as responsible, ethical beings, equal in their contributions. This may, in fact, be the best way to develop the reciprocity that is the hallmark of a high-trust society: mutual trust between citizens, and between the citizens and the state.
□ Lars Trägårdh is a professor of history and civil society studies at Ersta Sköndal University College in Stockholm, Sweden. Umut Özkırımlı is a visiting professor at IBEI (Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals) and Blanquerna – Universitat Ramon Llull, and senior research associate at CIDOB (Barcelona Centre for International Affairs). They are co-authors, with Henrik Berggren, of the forthcoming Dumb Swedes, Smart Turks? Nationalism, Democracy and the Global Crisis of Trust
Original Source: Date-stamped: 2020 APR 21 | Time-stamped: 17.00 AEST | Author: Umut Özkırımlı and Lars Tragardh | Article Title: Why might Sweden's COVID-19 policy work? Trust between citizens and state | Article Link: theguardian.com
ABC Insider Headline: Sweden is adopting a ‘flexible’ coronavirus response and betting on ‘social obedience’
Jens Magnusson can continue with his daily life relatively undisturbed. If he wants to.
Under the COVID-19 tackling approach taken by the Swedish Government, he can go to the gym, meet friends at a bar and join a bootcamp in park.
Sweden has so far recorded more than 400 coronavirus deaths — about 10 times as many as Australia. Its population is around half that of Australia.
But its Government is standing by its relatively relaxed approach to the pandemic.
Rather than telling people what to do — or, worse, telling them off — the Government is asking Swedes to do the right thing, and giving them the liberty to prove they are responsible citizens.
While the Government has taken some measures, such as limiting social gatherings to 50 people and closing high schools and universities, experts say it is betting on Sweden’s “social obedience”.
But that’s a lot of trust to put in your people at a time of global pandemic, and a gamble that could have catastrophic consequences.
By his own account, Mr Magnusson, 30, is an example that the ‘recommendations, not restrictions’ approach can work.
“I used to go to the gym three to four times a week, but I haven’t been there since the pandemic ramped up,” he said.
“Instead of going to the gym I usually go out for a run.
“I’m also cautious when out and about by keeping my distance from other people, and I haven’t been out in bars since the virus started.”
He said venues in his home of Ostersund, a town of 60,000 people in the middle of the country, had been “pretty much dead” for weeks now.
But when 30-year-old Stefan Nordenberg is strolling the streets of the Swedish capital of Stockholm with his son, they’re anything but.
“I was out last weekend, walking, just having a look at a number of bars, and it was actually surprisingly busy,” he said.
“But overall, even though everyone basically could be out, contaminating everything and infecting everyone else, the very vast majority of Swedes are staying at home.”
‘I’m not worried’
Mr Nordenberg said Swedes don’t share the same kind of scepticism towards government that citizens in other countries do — therefore they’re more likely to do the right thing, without being threatened with punitive measures.
“If the Government or the ministry that’s in charge of people’s health, if they say you should stay at home because that’s what’s best for all of us, people believe that. So, I should stay at home,” he said.
Because Sweden’s Government has taken a vastly different, more flexible approach than many Western countries, including its Scandinavian neighbours, he sometimes feels “torn”.
“It could [also] be that Sweden is just three weeks behind Italy and it’ll hit us like a sledgehammer.”
If Mr Nordenberg has his doubts, his 74-year-old father Richard, a former navy pilot, puts unwavering trust in the Swedish Government’s “very reasonable strategy”.
He said rather than isolating the whole society, the Government has put the onus on the elderly, asking them to stay home.
And he does, with a few exceptions.
Instead of meeting up with friends around town, they now hold video calls.
But he hasn’t refrained from taking the tube and visiting some family members.
“I’m not worried. I have no diseases, no weaknesses. I’m very healthy. I’m sporting,” he says.
Magnus Barnell thinks the world will benefit from trying different approaches for any future events.
“If it shows that our approach ultimately also can work, then it means that we can return back to normal society,” he said.
“Whereas if it shows it doesn’t work, then you will see more states becoming very restrictive [in future events].”
His wife, Nele, hopes that if at any point the Government realises the country is on the wrong trajectory, it changes course immediately.
“But at this point I don’t think they have to take any harsher measures. I do believe that if they see things are changing, I believe that they would change their strategy,” she said.
‘People will not tolerate a complete lockdown’
Experts say the Swedish Government is operating on the basis that it’s beyond the capabilities of most societies to stop the spread of the virus without a vaccine.
The Prime Minister’s department told the ABC that in addition to introducing public gathering limits, the country had encouraged social distancing, especially among the elderly, and banned visits to aged care facilities.
“We want measures that work in the long run, since this pandemic likely will continue for months,” the department said.
“At this point, our assessment is that people are changing their behaviour and [following] the recommendations.”
Local media is reporting the Government is considering stricter measures.
Karolinska Institute epidemiologist Emma Frans said Sweden’s response to the crisis stuck out like a sore thumb, when many other European countries have opted for some level of lockdown.
“I’m not sure it’s the right strategy, but it’ll be easier to maintain our strategy in the long run, compared to many other countries where they early on had a lockdown,” she said.
For a lockdown to be effective, and to avoid possible second waves of the virus, people must stay home for a year or 18 months, says Lund University Professor and epidemiologist Peter Nilsson.
That, he said, is “unthinkable” and could lead to societal breakdown.
“Imagine you have a country with a complete lockdown — everybody is isolated for three, four months,” he said.
“Then you lift it. The epidemic is still there. It will spread again. This is the problem.
“Besides that, a total lockdown will hurt the economy. If our society is damaged, there will be less money for health care in the future.
“People will not tolerate a complete lockdown for a very long time because they will have a mental breakdown. They will get desperate.”
Genetic epidemiologist Professor Paul Frank said the rate of the pandemic in Sweden did not mean the Government was letting the virus run its course.
But the Lund University expert is worried people are getting complacent.
“I’ve seen local hotels having wine-tasting evenings indoors with older people present. What I don’t see is a proper protection of vulnerable populations in this country.
“And that worries me because if you have a strategy where you’re pursuing the spread of the virus to reach herd immunity, which some would argue Sweden is doing, then a very important part of that strategy has to be to protect the vulnerable to prevent them from getting infected.
“If you’re not doing that, you’ll have fairly widespread deaths amongst those vulnerable populations. I’m very, very worried about that.”
Original Source: Date-stamped: 2020 APR 07 | Time-stamped: 10:28 am | Author: Katri Uibu | Article Title: Sweden is adopting a 'flexible' coronavirus response and betting on 'social obedience' | Article Link: abc.net.au
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