No Minister

The Swedish View on COVID-19

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Sweden has been in the news almost more than Italy, France, Britain and the USA when it comes to dealing with Chinese Lung Rot AIDS because it has taken the opposite approach to their nationwide lockdowns or – given the USA’s Federal system, partial lockdowns.

Sweden, almost alone among nations, is using the strategy of what is simplisitically called Herd immunity. This is not quite as crude as the critics would have it, which is that the government simply sits back and lets her rip.

In fact Sweden is pushing testing and tracing of those who have the disease as well as trying to quarantine the most at-risk groups, which are the elderly, especially in hospital, rest-home and aged-care facilities where the disease has proven deadly if it gets in.

The thing is that some of the global criticism has been muted because this has not been done at the behest of Evil Corporates Who Care Only About Money, or fanatical Objectivist political leaders or because it’s a selfish, uncaring society that kicks the poor to the side (aka the Evil USA). It’s Sweden FFS and it’s following this strategy on the advice of its health experts.

One of them is Professor Johan Giesecke who just happens to be one of the world’s most senior epidemiologists. He was the first Chief Scientist of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, and an advisor to the director general of the WHO.

An expert in other words. You know how we must listen to experts – instead of random internet bloggers – and do what the experts say, right?

The following is a 35 minute interview Giesecke and it’s perfect lockdown viewing while we wait for Judge Jacinda to decide if we’re allowed out for good behaviour.


As far as I can summarise these are the main points of that interview:

  • The flattening of the curve being seen in countries is due to the most vulnerable dying first as much as any 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 will in all likelihood turn out to be in the region of 0.1%
  • At least 50% of the population of both the UK and Sweden will likely be shown to have already had the disease when mass antibody testing becomes available. (Something already also suspected for California, which was expected to be hit like NYC but has not been).
  • The correct policy is to protect the old and the frail only (he says that Sweden did not do a good job on this, hence its death toll is higher than it should be); employ social distancing with restrictions on crowd size to no more than 50; keep schools open for older kids who know how to maintain social distancing.
  • This will eventually lead to herd immunity as a “by-product”. You can’t stop it spreading anyhow.
  • The initial UK response, before the “180 degree U-turn”, was better than the lockdown now being used by it and other European countries.
  • The theory of lockdown is not evidence-based.
  • The Imperial College paper was poor and far too pessimistic in not accounting for the ability to rapidly increase ICU capacity.
  • The paper was so poor that even in the unlikely scenario of no mitigation measures being implemented he rejects its projection of 510,000 deaths for the UK.
  • He has never seen an unpublished, non-peer-reviewed paper have so much policy impact. 
  • Any such models are a poor basis for public policy anyway, because they take no account of real world specifics.
  • Getting out of the lockdowns will be the big challenge since the question is around which restrictions can be lifted, followed by watching for upticks in cases and deaths at each stage, with increases met by what? Reinstating the restriction?
It’s also nice to see a scientist with a sense of civil liberties, where he talks about the concerns of having the Police stopping and interrogating people on the street to enforce laws, especially when those laws are not based on science.

At the moment the NZ Lockdown supporters are winning the public argument because we’ve only had 1431 cases (297 per million popn) and a dozen deaths (2 per million) while Sweden has had 14,385 cases (1,424 per million) and  1540 deaths (152 per million).

The thing is that Sweden has not flattened one third or more of it’s businesses and crushed its GDP by some 40% in a month. They’ll come out of this pandemic in much better shape than NZ and then we’ll see if we want to point the finger and say how cruel and uncaring the long respected idol of Democratic Socialists is.

Written by Tom Hunter

April 20, 2020 at 1:10 am

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