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[flagged] Sweden's herd immunity strategy has failed (nzherald.co.nz)
20 points by sanp 6 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 25 comments





You don’t have to look very far to see Sweden’s official plan was certainly not herd immunity though community infection. They took a more hands off “do the right thing” approach and I think it’s fair to say that did not fare as well as their Nordic neighbors.

Problem is, people in the US didn’t get the memo. They (we) think Sweden just rolled down the windows and put the pedal to the medal.

So both the perception and the report from various news outlets here has been pretty shoddy.


> They took a more hands off “do the right thing” approach

For the sake of clarity, the "official" strategy was not so much "do the right thing" as a multipronged one:

- to make sure the elderly and other groups at risk were adequately protected (something which failed to a large extent, causing the high death toll relative to neighboring countries)

- to make sure hospitals and hospital staff were not overwhelmed

- to otherwise minimize detrimental effects to the society in general: i.e. not try to eradicate the virus at high cost and great disruption, which means letting it wash through the population.

It is the latter bullet which has been interpreted as a "herd immunity" strategy, but the official response to this has been one of plausible deniability: it is only a positive side effect of the main strategy.

But internal memos reveal that herd immunity was very much expected and hoped for, with wildly exaggerated estimates of the immunity level galore all through spring.

Over summer and well into the fall it seemed that the strategy would be successful, and that Sweden stood to gain a considerable relative advantage through high levels of immunity among "socially active individuals", and would not need to implement lockdowns like comparable countries. Only over the last few weeks has this hope been thoroughly squashed.

"The Swedish experiment" which was not based on precaution but more on hopes has definitely failed.

It doesn't stop a lot of Swedes from sticking to the official narrative (with a fervor), but it should not fool anyone by now.


Thanks for clarifying. That seems like the right analysis. Good round up here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/17/swedens-covid-...

Been fascinating and disheartening to watch the elevation of the Swedish approach in the States as one of secret knowledge about “how to do it right” when even a cursory analysis seems to prove otherwise.


Journalism has failed during this pandemic.

But publicly available data in the US has succeeded. You can collect decent data from every State website, stick them in a spreadsheet and draw your own conclusions. Twenty minute exercise every three days. Slice and dice however you want, even at the county level. Track trends. Found most useful when State officials were shy about reporting per capita trends by county because of political concerns...

There are even websites that do a decent job of collecting the public US data, report it and charting it up for the US. (This was bought out by The Atlantic, but is still good.)

https://covidtracking.com/data

And the CDC isn’t too shabby either.

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid19/excess_deaths.htm

https://gis.cdc.gov/grasp/COVIDNet/COVID19_5.html

As well as

https://data.cms.gov/stories/s/COVID-19-Nursing-Home-Data/bk...

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/testing/individual-states


Social media's Like/Click/View based reward architecture is the main reason. If it doesn't change journalism wont.

If we had Stackoverflow points for journos rather than FB or Twitter Like counts the world would be a much different place.


Inviting the question: why not a StackOverflow site for journalism?

HN seems a step in that direction, but seems a bit too focused on its tech mission for general goings-on.


Techmeme Topic leaderboards seem to be heading in a good direction - www.techmeme.com/lb

Journalism is insanely broken now. They've lost so much trust

I don't think click and bait articles is new. What is new is that now we read articles from different sources, such that we are much better informed and think more critically

The article got a lot of counter comments from people living in Sweden at https://www.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/jyg8fr/covid19_s...

This commenter puts "news" in quotes which makes be believe it's not the most reliable:

"i live in nz where this "news" business operates. A lack of research has unfortunately become the norm for their articles, along with many other news agencies here."

Another

"Uh..this is just not true. There has never been a strategy of herd immunity in Sweden. Their source for this is "Dr Nick Talley [...] editor-in-chief of the Medical Journal of Australia". That is not a reliable source, especially to me as a swede who is following my governments statements and strategy. I have never heard anyone in the government say there is any hopes of achieving herd immunity without a vaccine, let alone that this would be a strategy. Sounds like something thinks Boris Johnson is Swedish.

You can absolutely have issues with the Swedish way of tackling covid-19, and you can certainly say it's pretty much failed, but to claim that the "herd immunity strategy" has failed is just bad research."


I also live in NZ and agree with that commenter's "news" quote. You're right - the NZ Herald isn't a reliable news source.

I agree with you, but in this case it looks like this article is a reprint from news.com.au - Rohan Smith is the author.

It’s hard to see why Talley was quoted, it seems like it might be a reprint perhaps of a daily mail article or something by the way of the reference to another UK newspaper in there? Dr Talley is widely regarded in Australia - there wouldn’t be a single Doctor in the country who doesn’t know his name (in a good way) but the quote from him in this article is a bit weird

"herd immunity strategy"

Was that actually the plan?


Really hitting home how low pay must be in journalism.

How else to understand just how trash journalism has become?


Read trash newspapers, get trash articles. The Sun is objectively neither worse nor better than 20 years ago.

The problem is Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, HN, where a link gets the same attention whether it says Reuters.com or trashnews.site.

The idea of “voting” as upvotes/retweets/shares promoting quality content (rather than inflammatory shit) is dead. We need something better.


  >a link gets the same attention whether it says Reuters.com or trashnews.site.
Reuters isn't as impartial as it likes to think it is.

Being trustworthy is orthogonal to being “impartial”. I really don’t mind media having a political perspective on things but that doesn’t mean their news are low quality (fabricated, uninformed etc).

(Also I find Reuters to be pretty damn objective but thats beside the point)


  >Being trustworthy is orthogonal to being “impartial”...  
  >Also I find Reuters to be pretty damn objective..
Reuters literally has a link to the 'The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles' at the bottom of every news story[0]. Which amongst other things state:

  >Thomson Reuters is dedicated to upholding the Trust Principles and to preserving its independence, integrity, and freedom from bias in the gathering and dissemination of information and news.
Ironically, I started checking the news headlines each morning on Reuters instead of the BBC a few months back, as I was fed up with the BBC's increasingly less than subtle spin on things.

I thought Reuters being a press agency, as opposed to a news publisher might provide what I want from my news which is to present me with the bare facts; A or B happened, X or Y said this or that, without editorialising.

Unfortunately I've found that Reuters is just as guilty as anyone else, albeit in a more subtle way. I'll give you just one recent example:

[and let me preface this by saying I have no interest whatsoever in American politics]

After the recent US election Reuters ran several headlines saying that Trump had "falsely" claimed he'd won [1] and have used similar language when describing Trump's legal challenges to the results.

Now, whatever you think of Trump and his behaviour [and again I don't care one way or the other] I don't think a news agency which claims to have "freedom from bias" should be telling me whether or not something the US President says is true or false. That's for the legal system to decide.

[0] https://www.thomsonreuters.com/en/about-us/trust-principles....

[1] https://uk.reuters.com/search/news?blob=trump+falsely+claims...


A news outlet that would report verbatim what the current US president says without live fact checking, would not be able to call itself objective either. It’s difficult.

It's not that difficult:

"Person X said Y", "Person X claimed Y", "Person X stated Y" are all objective.

"Person X falsely said Y" is editorialising.

I expect editorialising from newspapers. Not from 'unbiased' press agencies

If I'm right leaning and want to read a paper which reflects my views, I'll go for the Daily Mail or the Daily Telegraph. If I'm more of a leftie and want that political leaning pandered to, I'll read the same story in The Guardian or the Daily Mirror. A press agency [especially one which proclaims its "freedom from bias" on every page should] just present me with the bare facts and keep their opinions to themselves.


Reporting the statement “I won the election, says Trump”

Is actively pushing an incorrect statement. It doesn’t matter that it’s a bare quote. It doesn’t make a difference that it’s objectively true THAT he said so.

If the statement itself is highly questionable or outright false, then a news source must either a) qualify it as untrue/disputed/... (depending on the degree), or they must choose to just not report it. That’s it. Those are the only two choices.

What they cannot do is simply report he said it and “leave it to the courts” to determine whether it’s true.

Freedom from bias does not mean Reuters can engage in relaying quotes they themselves suspect are false without qualification, since merely choosing to report it without comment means actively relaying a lie. It’s not “editorializing”, but still actively doing whoever is lying a favor.


  >It doesn’t make a difference that it’s objectively true THAT he said so.
But that's exactly the point I'm making. Until the appropriate legal authorities decide the issue the claim is not objectively "false" --no matter how obvious it seems to all of us, that that is the case.

  >If the statement itself is ... outright false, then a news source must either a) qualify it as untrue...
What gives someone working at a news agency the right to decide what is true or false? Imagine if Reuters was reporting on a high profile murder trial and stated that the defendant "falsely claimed he hadn't committed the crime"?

The defendant may have been caught holding a smoking gun, standing over the victim's body cackling evilly and twirling his moustacheos. But it's the jury and the court who decides whether or not the statements made by the defendant are true or false.

It really doesn't fall within the remit of a self-professed 'unbiased' news agency to decide which statements made by which people are true and which are false. Just report what they said. If the statement in question is controversial or contested, then also report the counter arguments. But I really don't want to be told who I should believe and disbelieve. I'm capable of forming my own opinions.

  >Freedom from bias does not mean Reuters can engage in relaying quotes they themselves suspect are false
Of course they can. News agencies relay conflicting quotes from opposing parties all the time, during wars, political debate, scientific discourse, etc. "Party A claims X but Party B refutes this and claims Y".

That is exactly how an unbiased news agency should operate. Once they start reporting "Party A falsely claims X but Party B confirms Y" then they are no longer impartially reporting, but editorialising --no matter how much your hate for Party A and love for Party B predisposes you to see that as the 'objective truth'.




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