Swedes are too polite to call us stupid…

… instead they call us crazy.

The leader of the Swedish government’s epidemiology team is interviewed in “Sweden’s Covid Expert Says ‘World Went Mad’ With Lockdowns” (Bloomberg):

The man behind Sweden’s controversial Covid-19 strategy has characterized lockdowns imposed across much of the globe as a form of “madness” that flies in the face of what is known about handling viral outbreaks.

Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s state epidemiologist, said he advised against such restrictions on movement because of the detrimental side effects they often entail.

“It was as if the world had gone mad, and everything we had discussed was forgotten,” Tegnell said in a podcast with Swedish Radio on Wednesday. “The cases became too many and the political pressure got too strong. And then Sweden stood there rather alone.”

Tegnell admits he misjudged the deadly potential of the coronavirus in its early stages, but has refused to consider abandoning his strategy. He says restricting movement to the radical extent seen across much of the globe can create other problems, including increased domestic abuse, loneliness and mass unemployment.

“In the same way that all drugs have side effects, measures against a pandemic also have negative effects,” he said. “At an authority like ours, which works with a broad spectrum of public health issues, it is natural to take these aspects into account.”

What would he think of Maskachusetts? Our kids might not have learned anything for the past three months and maybe won’t get to return to school in September, either, and they may have gained weight and lost muscle tone as they go into Month 4 of shutdown, but at least they are masked!

Tegnell also advised against using face masks, arguing there’s little scientific evidence they work. And he says it’s clear that closing down schools was an unnecessary response to the pandemic, a notion that’s actually supported in a recent French study.

Have you enjoyed being shut down and throwing rocks at the reckless Swedes? Dr. Tegnell says you’ll probably get to do it every year for the next few decades:

Tegnell’s underlying argument is that Covid-19 isn’t going away any time soon, meaning sudden, severe lockdowns will ultimately prove ineffective in addressing the longer-term threat. Meanwhile, the virus has recently resurfaced in a number of places where authorities thought they’d brought it under control, including Beijing.

The article is a good illustration of American journalism. Because Tegnell is a infidel relative to the Church of Shutdown, his credentials are left out. He is just some guy who works for the Swedish government, not a Scientist (Wikipedia by contrast: “Tegnell obtained a PhD in Medicine from Linköping University in 2003 and a MSc in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2004”).

The section in which the article appears is “Sweden’s Coronavirus Experiment”. In other words, it is not the U.S. that is conducting an “experiment” by trying something that has never been tried before (i.e., shutting down a modern society/economy and health care system). It is Sweden that is engaging in a wild “experiment” by doing what humans have always done when confronting a new virus.

From my Sweden pictures:


10 thoughts on “Swedes are too polite to call us stupid…

  1. The lock down sure seems like an exercise in mass irrationality but mass irrationality is not exactly new in human history. In your own Faire Commonwealth you had the Salem Witch Trials. And who can forget the Childrens’ Crusades, where European children went forth to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims, never quite made it and ended up being captured and sold into slavery. Fast forward to the 20th century and insane genocide of the Nazis (based on the science of race), the Russians (based on the science of Marx) and the Chinese. So we see that science has often served as a justification for insanity — the NAZIs were scientists and based their behavior on the supposed science of the day. So the lock down, BLM and tearing down statues all seem pretty trivial in that context.

  2. You know Tengell is a smart epidemiologist, but he needs to learn a lot more about Maskology before outright dismissing them (does he know how effective they seem to be Asia?). Besides he needs to at least read this treatise from Black Swan author Nassim Taleb:

    Excellent points about “Experiment” and US journalism.

    Finally, Phil, I agree with you (!). This virus is just going to burn through us (short of a vaccine). But I think (and so does Osterholm and — gasp — even the WSJ:
    that we can slow it down in the hopes that a vaccine is sooner rather than later.

    Thanks for continuing to post these useful, interesting, and enlightening blogs.

  3. Phil,

    Quoting the other pieces from the same article you have quoted (Bloomberg), for the sake of balance and completeness:

    “Sweden now has one of the world’s highest Covid-19 mortality rates, with more deaths per 100,000 than the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University data. Polls suggest Swedes have started to lose faith in their country’s response to the pandemic.”

    “Sweden’s parliament has agreed to have a commission probe the government’s response to the Covid crisis. The results of the investigation are due to be published in early 2022, before the next general election. ”

    “Recent polls show that Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who heads a minority center-left coalition, has seen his voter approval ratings slump amid concerns about the country’s Covid policy.”

    • Noname: Those were off topic compared to my headline! They are examples of Americans calling Swedes stupid (not to mention envious of our shining Church of Shutdown).

  4. Disney just announced that they’re postponing the reopening of Disneyland due to the United States’ shitty, half-assed coronavirus response:


    By contrast, Shanghai Disneyland reopend more than a month ago on May 11 because the Chinese government acted to control the spread of the virus (unfortunately not early enough to keep it from spreading to the rest of the world, but it seems clear at this point that not many countries would’ve handled this any better). If China had the same per capita number of coronavirus deaths the US has reported so far, they would’ve had about 500,000 deaths. If they’d had the same death rate as Sweden, they would’ve had 713,000. The US and Sweden are now pariah countries that are being excluded from many countries’ border reopenings.


  5. https://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/the-public-health-agency-of-sweden/

    All the really good stuff is in Swedish. “Avlidna” means “deceased”.


    The Swedes seem to be concentrating their reporting on cases “sjukdomsfall”, and those in intensive care “intensivvardsfall”. More people have died in total than have gone into intensive care.

    They break down daily stats by sex between “kvinnor” (women) and “man” (man). No racial breakdowns that I can see — Sweden has taken in a lot of non-euro refugees in the last few decades.

    9 total deaths of under 30’s., 106 total hospitalizations (intensivvardfall) of under 30’s. The swedes are not hospitalizing their oldsters — 330 died over 90, but only 2(!) hospitalizations in that same age group.

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