Checking in on the wicked Swedes

One country we haven’t heard much about during the Ominous Omicron Oscillation is Sweden. As noted in Coronascientists are the modern Aristotles? for those who Follow the Science the original comparison countries to Sweden were Ireland, Britain, and France (NYT, April 28, 2020, “How Sweden Has Faced the Virus Without a Lockdown”).

The wicked Swedes followed the WHO pandemic guidebook in what we characterize as an “experiment.” (Closing schools, using bandanas as PPE, keeping marijuana shops open as “essential”, and giving non-FDA approved drugs to 5-year-olds is, by contrast, decidedly not an experiment.) Why isn’t Sweden featured in our media lately? Don’t the righteous among us want the satisfaction of seeing how badly the wicked are being punished by a just CoronaGod?

How about let’s look at cumulative deaths tagged to COVID-19 compared to the NYT’s originally chosen comparison set of nations. (I added the U.S. as well so that we can see the effect of Joe and Kamala’s Plan to Beat COVID-19.)

Maybe the flat line is because Omicron hasn’t hit Sweden? The answer seems to be “no”; cases are rising exponentially there, more or less as they are everywhere else.

What about vaccination rates? Perhaps these can explain any country-to-country variation in death rates. From the New York Times, January 6:

  • Ireland: 79% at least one dose; 45% turboboosted
  • France: 79% at least one dose; 35% turboboosted
  • United Kingdom: 78% at least one dose; 52% turboboosted
  • Sweden: 75% at least one dose; 25% turboboosted
  • United States: 74% at least one dose; 22% turboboosted

There doesn’t seem to be anything remarkable about Sweden in terms of attempts to induce artificial immunity via vaccination.

Heretical thought: Should we suspect that the country’s decision to allow young people to get infected in the spring of 2020 (while sheltering the elderly/vulnerable) built powerful natural immunity, even against the yet-to-develop Omicron variant?

Also, we can look at all of 2021 (source):


  • From August 16, 2020… “‘History will judge the hysteria'” (Israel National News): Prof. Udi Qimron will soon head the Department of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology at Tel Aviv University. In an interview with Yediot Ahronot, Qimron shed further light on the coronavirus. “There is a very great interest for anyone who has supported the draconian measures taken around the world to say that Sweden’s policy has failed. Because if it succeeded, and trillions went down the drain for no reason, someone will have to answer for it.” (I’m willing to bet that Professor Qimron is dead wrong on that last point!)
  • Also from Professor Qimron, from January 6, 2022: “Ministry of Health, it’s time to admit failure”. The best English summary from the original Hebrew: “I never want to get another government grant”, but it also contains some choice sentences, e.g., “Two years late, you finally realize that a respiratory virus cannot be defeated and that any such attempt is doomed to fail. You do not admit it, because you have admitted almost no mistake in the last two years, but in retrospect it is clear that you have failed miserably in almost all of your actions, and even the media is already having a hard time covering your shame. … There is currently no medical emergency, but you have been cultivating such a condition for two years now because of lust for power, budgets and control.”

8 thoughts on “Checking in on the wicked Swedes

  1. The same heresy, among other things, is discussed by Julius Ruechel in this post: “There was no reason to vaccinate anyone in Sweden – Sweden ended its pandemic with natural immunity before vaccination began.” In his telling, the return of flu marks the end of the pandemic and vaccines, masks, etc, had little or nothing to do with it.

  2. It is a pity that other countries have repeatedly failed to follow WHO guidelines. The guidelines explicitly allow for a swift regional containment, which has worked for SARS-CoV-1.

    For SARS-CoV-2 on the other hand swift containment was racist in the beginning of 2020. In Europe the virtuous press reminded us to hug Chinese people and live our lives normally.

    After massive outbreaks in Europe they did a 180° turn and again disregarded the WHO guidelines by locking everyone down, including young people.

    I think vaccinating during a pandemic wasn’t recommended either before 2020 (e.g., flu vaccines were given before the flu season but not during the flu season), but I can’t find a WHO reference right now.

    It is clear now that Sweden at least avoided the major second mistake, with better than average results. Congratulations to philg for predicting it so early!

  3. Why not compare Sweden to more similar and proximate Nordic countries? Isn’t this an example of expert witness games? …here’s some information that, while true, isn’t the most relevant or applicable.

    • I don’t know why the scientists at the New York Times were told by Science in April 2020 that the proper comparison nations were Ireland, Britain, and France. If you did not think that these were the correct countries to use, you should have complained to the NYT at the time.

      If we could travel back in time and reformulate the hypothesis, it might have made sense to compare Sweden to Germany. Both countries are packed with low-skill migrants and children of low-skill migrants (about 25 percent of the Swedish population (immigrant or two immigrant parents) compared to 26 percent in Germany (at least one immigrant parent); see for the results of the Merkel Miracle).

      If we had instead used populated-weight population density, the natural comparison nations would be Austria, Ireland, Hungary, and the Netherlands (see for a chart).

      If it is all about geographic proximity, we could compare New York to its neighbor, Vermont, and see how much Vermont suffered by not having Emmy-winner Andrew Cuomo (and his various young female friends) providing proper management.

    • Because Sweden is more similar to, say, Austria, than to its neighbors. Sweden is large but people cluster in cities, it is reachable from Denmark by car and train (there’s a bridge), migrant population is similar etc.

      Norway and Finland are more isolated geographically. I’d also say that the willingness to self-isolate is higher among Norwegians and Finns than among Swedes or Austrians.

    • If we want to be scientists as the term was understood prior to 2020, we can’t change the hypothesis after receiving the data. So we have to stick with the comparison set that was established in April 2020.

    • Anon: Thanks for the link. I agree with you that Austria wouldn’t have been an unreasonable comparison country to have chosen in the spring of 2020, but it wasn’t chosen so if I am going to adhere to my obsolete definition of “science” I can’t use it.

      What can I use? The NYT-chosen comparison set. Everyone knows that the NYT has the best access to Science. Alternatively, I could have chosen the benchmark that the Swedes themselves said that they expected to use, which was the European average. Anders Tegnell was a government intervention-denier first and forecast and thought that countries would end up with similar death rates regardless of what policies and restrictions they imposed. We can interpret this as a hypothesis that Sweden would end up in the middle of the EU pack. This was sort of correct:

      Tegnell seems to have been correct that there wouldn’t be a strong correlation between policy and death rate. Countries up at the top in terms of death rate had strict lockdowns and early mask orders. Where Tegnell’s hypothesis seems to have been wrong is the lack of convergence. There’s more variation in death rate than he seems to have suggested/expected/predicted.

      But if we use my standard technique of comparison to flu, maybe we should have expected this kind of variation. shows a lot of variation in flu death rate among European nations. 2 for Finland, 9 for Sweden. 6 for Italy and 16 for Greece. 23 for Portugal and only 8 for neighboring Spain.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.