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Sweden's Pandemic Experiment (newyorker.com)
32 points by cercatrova 3 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 96 comments





This is apparently what counts as journalism nowadays. A collection of anecdotes and emotion filled stories. For an article that's supposedly talking about whether Sweden made the correct decisions or not, note how many paragraphs you have to read before a single number/piece of data is even mentioned. But they have lots of heart-wrenching stories about 80 year old grandmas getting sick. Ironically, they use this emotion-based strategy in an article about how Sweden decided not govern via emotion and panic and instead use facts/data/logic/reason instead.

Thank you for this comment!

It is infuriating to see an article like this without a single chart, graph, or anything referencing actual statistical analysis.

We have an entire class of elites who despite graduating from elite schools are statistically and often mathematically illiterate who are funneled directly into the top tier media companies. Like most quantitatively illiterate humans, they think in terms of stories, anecdotes, and emotions.

Journalism like this is why people on hiking trails wear masks, and healthy 20-something people are acting like they are at equivalent risk as nursing home residents.

It's embarrassing that the entire western world has allowed media institutions filled with liberal arts grads to shape our entire response to the virus.


Is it statistical illiteracy or something else?

I think it's because journalism has become all about the journalist and their narrative and social signaling.

Even when data is used, it's not for the purpose of dispassionate analysis. Using data is just a way to identify yourself in the "expert" "science-based" camp.


there is a real issue with "common sense" in the world atm. I mean look at this... the Australian Gov had to put a FAQ answer up about if the vaccine will connect you to the internet: https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-...

how utterly ludicrous is this shit?!?


Great analysis. It's sad to see how easily the general public is influenced with poorly presented numbers. Take for instance the absolute number of positive PCR tests in the Netherlands, used as a benchmark despite ever increasing number of tests since the start of the pandemic.

I'm not sure I understand. The absolute number of positive test cases is a best guess, a temperature gauge, no absolute truth. The true number of cases is unknown and estimated to be 1.5-3 times the number of positive cases (from sero-prevalence studies).

Contrary to popular belief policy decisions are not made on cases alone, but percentage of positive tests, hospital capacities, fatalities, test & trace capacities etc. taken together.


No they are not. The presentations designed to get government to approve measures are public, anyone can see them.

Policy decisions are based on bullshit and fraudulent predictions. The current lockdown was started on December 15 based on a bullshit prediction, then the curfew was started based on another bullshit prediction that was even falsified before it was shown, and then everything was extended based on bullshit, first the statement ‘we need to go on longer so we can see if it works’ and then ‘we are sure it works’ and then ‘well we will never know if it works, but it’s scary to stop’.

It’s bullshit through and through. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.


Have you watched the "technical briefings" to the House of Representatives in the Netherlands? The same graphs as seen on the corona dashboard [1] are used to persuade politicians to implement policies based on absolute PCR test numbers. Despite an increase in weekly PCR tests from June's 50k to November's 260K [2]. I'm sure other data is used but this seems to be a major part of their argument.

[1] https://coronadashboard.rijksoverheid.nl/landelijk/positief-... [2] https://ggdghor.nl/actueel-bericht/weekupdate-cijfers-corona...


Presenting the number of positive cases without normalizing for the number of tests taken and population is just dishonest.

Hopefully those policy decisions are taking more into account but when communicating the decisions I've found that only the scary numbers are used as justification.


I could not agree more. I kept scrolling waiting to see some tables or graphs.

Sweden seems to be a COVID Rorschach test. Whatever you believe the correct response is/was you can point to Sweden to support your point. You can see it in this thread. They didn't lock down and they were fine! They didn't lock down and they had a bunch of needless deaths!


I had a similar reaction. The article definitely doesn't follow the Inverted Pyramid approach (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverted_pyramid_(journalism) ).

This is a chart of age-corrected excess mortality between the least affected European countries for 2020. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EyH8yiZWgAkgt6k.jpg

I agree, this is pure emotion, because the facts tell a different story they don't like, so they use speech, words & fear instead of data.

Every country's response was an "experiment". Every country's approach has been unique. Distilling Sweden's strategy to simply "the country decided not to implement lockdowns or recommend masks" is ludicrous. I'm personally not a fan of Sweden's response, but I feel like these simplistic and superficial descriptions of Sweden's approach getting are getting a bit ridiculous.

There’s at least one group (probably more) of people in Sweden working diligently to feed foreign media, particularly US media, with information (and arguably disinformation) about what a failure Sweden is. It seems to be some kind of play for domestic power.

I’m not a fan of Sweden’s strategy either, but the above has made me be a bit wary of opinions of the same in international media.


The same thing is happening with the EU. The narrative is no longer that foreign companies under contract are shipping vaccines from the EU. That has been replaced with the narrative that the EU is exporting vaccines and other countries are not.

This is of course because the EU completely fucked up the contracts by being slow, inept, and not understanding how manufacturing is booked.


This happens quite a lot these days. I mostly see it happen with international political events where another country/politician/etc is not aligned with the US progressive left. The reason I am singling out this political segment is that they've come to influence/control many US institutions (news, universities, corporations) and also because they are well-organized, which gives them pathways to amplify messages. So activists in other countries tie causes and build coalitions with those on the US progressive left to get their (usually biased) version of some domestic story out into the world.

A good example of this can be seen with India, where the current party in power is regularly unfairly attacked by US media with one-sided stories told from a progressive political perspective. As an example, John Oliver ran a very cringe-worthy segment about Narendra Modi (the Prime Minister of India), without any introspection about how it looks for a British white man to mock the democratically elected leader of a country freed from British colonization only recently (in 1947). This carried on to the farmers protests in India, where US celebrities like NBA basketball players started posting their support for violent protests on Twitter and Instagram without understanding the laws in question, how they address numerous complex problems, how Indian politics works, and other relevant details. Even Greta Thunberg got involved, tweeting a "toolkit" (https://nypost.com/2021/02/04/greta-thunberg-faces-probe-in-...) that amounted to undermining the government of India, and setting off investigations of sedition. Everyone seems to cry wolf about foreign influence on their own political system but are willing to do the same to others, seemingly.

Apart from the peculiar case of Sweden in coronavirus politics, we are now also seeing other European leaders recognize the influence of US media and the threat it poses to their political systems, societies, and culture. Macron and other French leaders spoke about this publicly when Twitter banned Trump (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/09/world/europe/france-threa...), warning against an "intellectual matrix from American universities". Angela Merkel railed against the immense influence of American tech companies, and the threat it poses to free societies (https://www.forbes.com/sites/roberthart/2021/01/11/problemat...).


> As an example, John Oliver ran a very cringe-worthy segment about Narendra Modi (the Prime Minister of India), without any introspection about how it looks for a British white man to mock the democratically elected leader of a country freed from British colonization only recently (in 1947).

It's funny how the US left frequently argues they're advocating in favor of X group, but if any member of X group diverges in opinion from upper-class urban whites and the broader liberal elite social class, they're quickly ignored or condemned.

This is even more apparent now when, in context of BLM stuff particularly, minority people are said to be embodying "whiteness" if they diverge from the BLM narrative.


When an article lays out exact figures like this, it is hard to sympathize with those interviewed who were outraged about the lack of heavier restrictions. 12,000 victims in a country of 10 million people. That is a relatively tiny number, and many citizens may well choose to accept that level of morbidity in order to preserve something of a normal life for younger people, allowing them their big group events and courtship rituals so important for their coming of age. (Throughout this pandemic year I myself have opposed certain restrictions because I see it as the biggest betrayal of our youth since May ’68.)

Often it has been claimed that while the flu takes victims every year, COVID cannot be compared to the flu because its victim count is higher. Yet modern populations have also become larger, and so the proportions are not so different than with common seasonal ailments of times past, when society did not feel a pressure to impose lockdowns as opposed to other public-health measures.


12,000 victims is small in an absolute sense, but per capita it is close to the US's numbers (US is about 25% higher: 1681/M vs 1340/M).

One of the things that really bugs me with comparing to the flu is it turns out we could have prevented many deaths, but didn't. We just accepted the number of people dying from influenza as status-quo.

We now know we can actually do a much better job of controlling the spread of viruses, if we choose to. We could aim for higher vaccination rates, especially in younger people and those working in close proximity to others. We could increase ventilation standards. We could change attitudes (and compensation) around people coming to work sick.

It doesn't mean pandemic-style protocols, but small adjustments have a compounding effect. Even societal attitude shifts like considering it as disgusting for an unmasked person to cough in public as it is to spit in the floor can change things. Influenza has an R0 of 1.3 [1]. Every bit closer to 1.0 that gets would save thousands of lives.

[1] https://www.qps.com/2020/10/05/covid-19-versus-the-seasonal-...


Out of curiosity, why was May ‘68 a “betrayal of our youth”?

Are you familiar with what happened in France in that year? [0] Young people en masse attempted to gain a voice in the running of the institutions that determined their lives. Yet they were met with police violence, as well as betrayal by the geriatic leadership of France’s major leftist party who saw the fresh new ideas of the youth as too scary and outside their staid old comfort zone.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_68


I am familiar with May '68 but I do see it more as an ultimate victory for youth, rather than repressive defeat.

But I think I see your point nonetheless.


[flagged]


"Within the borders". No thanks. Besides the fact that European countries are not self-sufficient in basic goods and they rely on a steady daily stream of cross-border freight, ordinary Europeans should not be walled off from their fellow Europeans.

I've also been watching Florida. Schools open since August, only a brief lockdown, few mandates. Middle-of-the-pack death rate results slightly worse than California which has major mandates and lockdowns.

Florida is also a large state with a large senior population, so it can't be easily dismissed.

Death numbers ticking up slightly, but absent a major increase in deaths, it will be hard to say that Florida made a bad decision.

Note that I'm only looking at death numbers, not case numbers. I know it's a trailing indicator, but is a much better indicator of the actual results.


Compared to other Nordic countries Sweden went horribly wrong. On EU-level, about average.

Finland did much better without strict lockdowns. Just limit group events limit restaurants open hours, shut down schools for the worst times etc. Sweden could have saved thousand of people with just slightly more restrictions.

Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 as of 6 April 2021. https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality

  Iceland      8.20
  Norway      12.72 
  Finland     15.33 
  Denmark     41.93 
  Canada      62.29 
  Germany     93.02
  Netherlands 97.50
  Sweden     132.55 
  France     144.81
  UK         191.17 
  US         169.82 
  Belgium    203.13
  Hungary    224.47 
  Czech Rep. 254.64

What that list indicates, along with a huge amount of literature about the subject [0], is that arguments for lockdowns likely have zero validity.

Certainly, with Sweden faring much better than other countries that employed far more restrictive measures suggests that the virus doesn't care about such measures. Economies, livelihoods, rights, and those waiting for treatments for other things were all harmed unnecessarily.

At best this has all been a giant, failed experiment. At worst it's the predictable result of panic and listening to self-appointed "authorities" who happen to be able to reach large audiences instantly, instead of lesser-known actual experts without such privilege, and who therefore take longer to be heard.

Doing what is ordinarily done in pandemics - isolating only those at risk until cures are found, would obviously have saved more lives and resulted in almost no disruption nor any trillions in wasted money.

[0] - 32 studies: https://www.aier.org/article/lockdowns-do-not-control-the-co...


I never understood the strict lockdown measures in most countries. Maybe it's useful in very dense cities?

In Finland the idea was don't mingle and meet people. Old people should avoid contact, but going outside is OK. When gyms were closed, all parks were full of people running and exercising. They just kept the distance. Even without a mask it's very hard to get viral dose that causes infection if you keep enough distance when outside.


I don't know about other countries but here in the UK imposing a lockdown seems to result in an eventual reduction of numbers of lifting of lockdowns results in them growing again - even to the point where a seemingly inevitable "third wave" is being predicted for later this year even with the success of the vaccination program here.

Indeed, the main criticism of the government(s) here is usually that lockdowns weren't introduced soon enough and lifted too early.


Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

Cases going down after a lockdown (which happens when cases go up) doesn't imply the lockdown actually caused the cases to go back down. It's a classic mistake in medicine - "patient got better after treatment, therefore the treatment is effective" and the reason we have double blind trials.


So what do you suggest is causing the fairly dramatic reduction in cases when we have lockdowns and them rising again when lockdowns lifted (at they were last summer and at Xmas)?

While everyone is staying at home and distancing, fewer people are being tested, resulting in fewer cases.

I don't see any sign of that in the UK statistics:

https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/

And what explains the deaths?


Ok, I looked a bit closer at the cases and the lockdown dates [0], there does seem to have been a repeating pattern there of case numbers changing about 14 days after a lockdown is enacted/lifted. With the repeating pattern, I'm more convinced it did have an effect on the case numbers at least. I still think the cost: benefit is way unfavorable, though. We'll have a better picture in years to come once the dust has settled.

[0] https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/sites/default/file...


Absolutely - I have no idea whether lockdowns were the best possible approach and they have been incredibly expensive and disruptive in all kinds of ways - but it did seem odd to me to argue that they don't work.

It will definitely be interesting to see, once this is all done, which approaches worked the best and why there were such huge variations between different countries.


Interesting, but given it contradicts volumes of research suggests that if based on real data (rather than the hand-waving it sounds like), it's probably anomaly.

A better metric is probably excess mortality for 2020. The covid deaths per capita metric will vary immensely depending on exactly how it is measured. Here are the numbers for Sweden and some other countries:

> Preliminary data from EU statistics agency Eurostat compiled by Reuters showed Sweden had 7.7% more deaths in 2020 than its average for the preceding four years. Countries that opted for several periods of strict lockdowns, such as Spain and Belgium, had so-called excess mortality of 18.1% and 16.2% respectively.

> Twenty-one of the 30 countries with available statistics had higher excess mortality than Sweden. However, Sweden did much worse than its Nordic neighbours, with Denmark registering just 1.5% excess mortality and Finland 1.0%. Norway had no excess mortality at all in 2020.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-europe...

Can someone fill in the numbers for the US and Canada?


Sure!

[1] shows the Excess Mortality across Countries in 2020, very convenient to compare.

In particular:

Canada: 6%

USA: 12.9%

South Korea, interestingly: -2.9%

[1] https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/excess-mortality-across-countr...

Also - [2] https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/210310/dq210...


Huh, that's interesting. How come your link claims the increase was 1.5% while mine claims it was 7.7%?

Good question, I am not sure. The numbers from my link do match the official numbers from Canada (link [2]) though.

Or it wouldn't have mattered - it can be a lot of different reasons (including randomness) that caused the situation in Sweden and I've yet heard anyone do any kind of proper scientific research and argument about it, so most likely we just don't know.

"Lies, damn lies, statistics"...


The numbers here go from 8 to 254. Couldn't you make most of the countries on this list look good or bad by just adjusting the comparison set?

[flagged]


What about Belgium? What's the big difference between Belgium compared to the Nordic countries? Because they've had it a lot worse than Sweden.

TLDR; It's possible to cherry pick. And it doesn't lead us anywhere (neither for nor against your hypothesis).


Belgium did worse.

>TLDR; It's possible to cherry pick.

I didn't cherry pick. I selected the best reference group. Other Nordic countries are very similar to Sweden.

Then I added some other countries to show that Sweden is roughly average in genera.


Not sure, Finland is experiencing massive layoffs.

I don't know. 6000 covid unemployed in Finland compared to 13,000 deaths in Sweden does not seem so bad.

On principle lockdowns work. If everyone is in a bubble, isolated from everyone else, no transmission of anything occurs, no disease, no nothing. Utopia. In practice this is impossible. The lockdowns you impose eventually get lifted and the ultra contagious disease catches up, then you impose new lockdowns, rinse and repeat. It's unsustainable. These lockdowns make sense when you're caught unprepared at the very beginning of a pandemic and are used to reorganize nation's resources and capabilities to be able to take care as much as possible for the minority of people at risk.

What is sustainable is being a sparsely populated nation in a dry climate, heat, summer, sun, most importantly - healthy non-obese people and not everyone being 90 years old with a list of chronic illnesses. Most nations aren't like that.

So sorry to burst your Jesus insecurity, but nobody is saving anyone by #stayathome. And this will be evident in a year or two when you draw the line and find out that nations with severe lockdowns ended up being not that better than those without any lockdowns.

This is the most highly contagious virus and it won't magically disappear. Mutations already kick in and there is little insight how current vaccines will fare in the long run. Lockdowns and mass vaccination every cold season? Good luck with that. I don't even visit the dentist that often.


One anecdote I heard is that Sweden got better compliance by asking people nicely to distance & mask than the US got by forcing people to distance & mask.

it wasn’t just being nice, but rather being frank, objective, and trusting. give people the information we have as we have it and with the multidimensional confidence we have in that information, and trust that people will broadly, but not perfectly uniformly (that’d be fascist), do the right thing.

A lot of states never locked down and didn't have mask mandates or variable mask mandates at the state level. Even when the states relaxed their COVID mandates, many of the businesses still required masks.

I was just in FL for 10 days. It was hit or miss outside. Some people wore masks, others did not. Pretty much 100% of the businesses still require masks to be in the store. Restaurants were the same, masks on until you get seated, then you can take them off.


let’s stop talking about masks because they’re at best a minor mitigation for the public, but a major mediopolitical leverage point, and thus an unworthy diversion. wear them indoors when near non-household members for extended periods, but otherwise mind your distance indoors and we’re all good. service workers and certain professions like healthcare will already have the necessary masking rules that we don’t need to keep talking about it for that reason either.

> It was hit or miss outside

Have any studies shown the effectivenes of masks outdoors? I know a lot have found the virus spreads poorly outdoors, so this difference probably isn't a big factor in the spread.


common-sense it was

Distancing maybe but masks are still a pretty rare sight. Mask compliance in the US is on a different scale, it's not even comparable.

They're more and more common now (I live in Stockholm).

Still, saying mask compliance is better in Sweden is just so far off. We're not remotely close to countries with mask mandates.

100 %. I’m in Berlin right now. Compliance with mandatory mask rules here is now basically 99 % on public transport and in public indoor spaces. I would have never thought this could happen in such an otherwise rebelliously spirited city. But most people seem to understand that mask use is about protecting others as much or more than about protecting oneself.

In Sweden on the other hand, mask use is neither mandatory, nor has the messaging been about that mask use is about protecting others primarily, nor seem Swedes to care a lot about protecting others. This whole mask issue has revealed a rather ugly, selfish side of Swedish mentality to me. In addition to the stubbornness and widely internalized national exceptionalism.


In Sweden, the implied social pressure also helps. In this US, that might have also fared better because a lot of people resent the government telling them to do something. It seems leadership learned that lesson with the vaccine rollout.

What’s fun to me is to watch different country’s get on their high horses about how they handled things while we’re still in the middle of a pandemic.

Those in Canada are currently being knocked off their high horses by a massive 3rd wave worse than anything before it. Some of this is likely due to the rapid removal of restrictions back in February when cases were on a downward trend.

Well likely know who handled it best in 4-5 years. And even then the answer will likely be “it’s all trade offs, depends what’s important to you”.


It certainly has been interesting. Last I heard, the worst country in Europe in terms of deaths per capita was the Czech Republic, which was also the country everyone pointed to earlier in the pandemic as the European success story which all the other countries in Europe should imitate and which showed they'd all failed miserably at dealing with Covid.

I am Czech but I’ve been living in Sweden for the past 6 or so years. The biggest difference I see is consistency and trust between population and the agencies and government.

Sweden did this: - we now have to do XYZ, this is the new normal. The things we ask you to do are designed to be sustainable in the long term (the fact they didn’t close schools is a perfect example. Closing schools is absolutely not sustainable long term)

Cz did this: - cases are up, close everything - when cases are down, open up everything. Chest beating ensued as you wrote. We won, why should we help Italians who didn’t manage as well as we did etc.. - when cases are up close everything - repeat with confusing variations on what is allowed or banned this time

This eroded the (already weak) trust between people and the government IMO and nobody gives a shit about following even the regulations that make sense. Listening to my family describing what is going on in CZ gives a very Kafkaesque feeling.


"It will impact country X but not us" has been a consistent pattern in this pandemic, and it does not make me optimistic going forward.

I'd argue that the countries that did face SARS have handled SARS-Cov-2 better than the ones that didn't.


Underrated comment. NZ, AUS, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea. Most of the countries doing well have dealt with bird flu, SARS, etc in the recent past. Shouldn't surprise people they reacted quickly and got it under control. They had plenty of practice.

Based on the Excess Mortality across Countries in 2020, Sweden did surprisingly good, with only 1.5%. For comparison, the US was much worse with 12.5%. And Finland had -3.1% for some reason

[1] https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/excess-mortality-across-countr...


Would someone tldr it?

Sweden were convinced their approach of not really doing anything would yield an infection mortality rate of 0.1%. They were extremely wrong.

They then thought their approach would avoid a second wave. They were wrong about that as well.

They're now pinning their hats on being 'not the worst off'.

A lot of people are dead. Others are angry.


Total deaths pM Belgium: 1,999

Total deaths pM Sweden: 1,399

Similar country size, but BE has had full lockdown, curfew, police fining.


The problem with comparing Belgium is that, by their own admission, they may be inflating numbers where other countries are deflating numbers.

Belgium considered anyone that died with something that might be COVID-19, that death is in their stats. Meanwhile, other countries are saying anyone who has not been positively tested as having died with COVID-19 in their system did not die from the pandemic. But tests are fallible, and many people die of the after effects of COVID-19, after the virus has ravaged them but been dealt with.

The true measure is going to be the death rate compared to the previous ten years. And even that has to be considered by numerous conflating variables.


AFAIK this is the same attribution strategy that sweden uses. It has likewise been cited over here (sweden) as contributing to the comparitevely high numbers.

Thanks, I did not know this.

That's quite some cherry picking you're doing there.

...

Total deaths pM Norway: 123

Total deaths pM Finland: 148

Total deaths pM Germany: 915

...

Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1104709/coronavirus-deat...


Both the EU average deaths pM and Sweden deaths pM are pretty similar, around 1300.

I'm not sure why you consider Belgium cherry-picking but not Norway, Germany, and Finland.

You could make an argument for Finland and Norway as more culturally similar (even if personally I find this logic suspect for explaining Covid outcomes), but I don't see how, between Germany and Belgium, one is obviously better than the other for comparison. It appears you chose a country that fits your narrative, and them, theirs.


> I'm not sure why you consider Belgium cherry-picking but not Norway, Germany, and Finland.

> You could make an argument for Finland and Norway as more culturally similar

Exactly that. Germany I simply chose because that's where I'm from originally. The data couldn't be more clear that's why I thought it wouldn't be necessary to list many more countries with a stricter Covid19 policy and a considerably lower death rate.


If we're just choosing our personal favorite countries, we can also discuss France, who is still in lockdown (albeit weakened) with ~1450 deaths pM. :)

> The data couldn't be more clear

I don't mean to be rude, so please take this as an honest, albeit blunt, response. No one who is honestly analyzing this situation is making such a strong statement. Be them epidemiologists, statisticians, or independent analysts. The only ones saying this are politicians whose job depend on proving that their strategy works.

I would really encourage you to have a bit more humility at the complexity of this problem and the variables (and messy data) involved and the fact that we're still actively learning more every day about the effectiveness of different policy strategies.


Have a look at this study that analyzed different countries'/regions' responses to the pandemic and the outcome in terms of economic impact, death toll, etc:

https://www.institutmolinari.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/17...


Why not include Japan? 71.9 deaths pM.

Because Japanese people wear masks without being told.

Germanys population is the second oldest after Japan, just saying

Total deaths pM Norway: 123.41

Total deaths pM Denmark: 414.88

Total deaths pM Sweden: 1,399

Similar cultures, but Denmark and Norway implemented more strict lockdown measures.

Two can play this game


Culturally, it makes more sense to compare to Norway and Denmark. I'm pretty sure those numbers look really different.

What was your process for choosing Belgium from the countries that have had full lockdowns, etc?

I think it's a representative comparison.

Sweden has a much lower population density than Belgium - 25 vs 383 per sq. km of land area.

Belgium seems pretty small and crowded when compared to Sweden.


Stockholm has a population density 5,200/sq km, while Brussels has 7,400/sq km (source: Wikipedia). Most deaths are in densely populated areas, because that's where people tend to live.

Actually, while most infections happen in densely populated areas, most deaths don't.

Healthcare access out of densely populated areas involves delays, transportation, sometimes airlifts or is just simply sub-par. Also densely populated areas tend to have younger population which is overall less likely to die. All of which shifts a significant part of the death rate towards sparsely populated areas.

Death rate by population density is basically a shapeless scatterplot [0]. Even superdense micronations (Monaco, Singapore, Liechtenstein, etc) don't seem to have significantly high rates, with the notable exception of San Marino, which is still "just" at the level of Czechia.

[0] https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/covid-19-death-rate-vs-po...


Raw population density (total population / total land area) is a meaningless statistic, as people are clustered together in cities and not evenly spaced around the countryside. The figure you want is population weighted density, which is the density where the "average citizen" lives.

Of course that's a naive analysis, but so was grandparent's.

Actually that's why I mention Singapore, Monaco or Liechtenstein, all of their surface is inhabited, or their population concentrated around a single city, but their death rates aren't dissimilar from those of their surrounding countries.


I enjoyed this paragraph:

> Tegnell, who is sixty-four and tall, with round glasses, has often said that lockdowns are not supported by science and that the evidence for mask-wearing is “weak.” His stance is a startling departure from the scientific consensus, but he maintains that if other countries were led by experts rather than politicians, more nations would have policies like Sweden’s. The world has been left gawking. American liberals were shocked that the country of Greta Thunberg could seem so scientifically backward. Right-wing activists in Minnesota held up signs during anti-lockdown protests reading “Be Like Sweden.” Within the country, Tegnell has become an icon of Swedish exceptionalism, believed to be excessively reasonable, levelheaded, and rational.


Why did you enjoy it? It's a complete lie. We are in a pandemic and scientific consensus should require randomized trials. I think we can rewrite this to say: "experts disagreed with other experts on mitigation strategies."

This isn't the first respiratory virus humanity has encountered that spreads through exhaled droplets, nor is it the first widespread outbreak of such a thing.

Absent evidence that a new respiratory virus that spreads through droplets is in some way different from all those past ones in a way that would make already known ways of dealing with them not applicable, you shouldn't really need to stop and do randomized trials on those past methods applied to the new virus before you put them into effect.


If you had asked any epidemiologist in 2019, they would have told you that respiratory viruses that spread through droplets can't be effectively controlled by lockdowns and that the evidence for universal masking is weak. If you remember the early controversy over the UK's response, this is what it was about; the government wanted to follow their pre-established protocols for handling respiratory pandemics, against their advisors' advice that this was completely different and couldn't be handled the same way as flu pandemics.

> We are in a pandemic and scientific consensus should require randomized trials.

The entire pandemic has been politicized, science be damned when it doesn't conform to a political narrative.


What if I said the pandemic is more of a political issue than an epidemiological one? A year of restrictions (or not) for a .5%-1% IFR disease is a political decision.

That's the expected IFR granted everyone gets proper healthcare access.

Roughly 10% of those infected require hospitalization, and you can't just put anywhere close to 10%, or even 1%, of the population in the hospital at any given time. Those resources simply don't exist. It also affects IFR of anything else that requires a hospital.

If I get severely sick with COVID-19 (or literally anything else) where I live at the moment, I won't get a normal healthcare access. I'll need to get airlifted elsewhere. We're at 120% ICU occupation rate. Most of the deaths here are happening during transfers to other areas.

It's seriously concerning that we have to repeat this after a year.


I agree the scientific consensus is debatable, but I enjoy the way the man turns the policy debate upside down. At the very least, he's helped to de-politickize the debate.



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