By Ryan McMaken *
It is now more than eighteen months since governments began the new social experiment now known as ‘lockdowns’. Before 2020, forced “social distancing” was generally considered too costly in societal terms to justify such a risky experiment.
Yet in 2020, under the leadership of health technocrats from the World Health Organization, almost every national government in the world has suddenly and unprecedentedly embraced the idea of foreclosure.
On the other hand, the Swedish regime rejected the idea.
For this iconoclastic act, the Swedish government was pilloried by media organizations and non-Swedish government officials around the world. Predictions of doom and a widespread Swedish bloodbath were ubiquitous. Months later, even when it became clear that Sweden was not the death outlier that many thought it would be, it was common to see articles stating that Sweden’s anti-covid policy was a “disaster”.
Even eighteen months later, as the doomed Sweden narrative crumbles even further, Sweden’s critics contort to create an anti-Swedish narrative. Consider this August 2021 post on Business intern, for example, which carefully cuts the data to make it look like Sweden’s performance is bad. The author writes slyly:
Since the start of the pandemic, around 11 in 100 people in Sweden have been diagnosed with COVID-19, compared to 9.4 out of 100 in the UK and 7.4 out of 100 in Italy. Sweden has also recorded around 145 deaths from COVID-19 per 100,000 people – around three times as many as Denmark, eight times as many as Finland and nearly 10 times as many as Norway.
Note the knack used here. In one sentence, the comparison focuses on diagnoses compared to the UK and Italy. This is surely because actual deaths from covid are lower per million in Sweden than in the UK or Italy. Indeed, the author with this comparison only succeeds in showing us that covid is less fatal in Sweden where there are more cases but fewer deaths. The author then quickly changes the subject for comparisons of deaths to ensure that Sweden compares unfavorably with Denmark, Finland and Norway.
These claims are becoming increasingly desperate, as in terms of excessive deaths Sweden is better off than most of Europe as a whole, and also better off than most other northern European countries. (And a lot better than countries in southern Europe.) Additionally, ‘excess mortality’ is a better measure of deaths in a given country because it provides a broader view of the true effects of covid and covid Politics.
Of course, we can find European regimes that have had proportionately fewer deaths. Norway, Denmark and Finland have remarkably low numbers of covid deaths compared to all from Europe.
But that doesn’t explain why Sweden’s non-bloodbath compares favorably with most EU member states, including France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and others.
For example, at the end of August, excess mortality in Sweden was around 785 per million people. In France the total is 988 per million, and in Spain it is 1,917 per million. In the UK, which is not a member of the EU, the total is 1,657 per million.
This trend was already becoming apparent months ago, and in March, Reuters reported,
Sweden recorded 7.7% more deaths in 2020 than its average for the previous four years. The countries which have opted for several periods of strict confinement, such as Spain and Belgium, had a so-called excess mortality of 18.1% and 16.2% respectively…. Twenty-one of the 30 countries for which statistics are available had a higher excess mortality than Sweden.
Other data, also according to Reuters, “which included an adjustment for differences in the age structures and seasonal mortality patterns of the countries analyzed,” placed Sweden eighteenth out of twenty-six in terms of mortality. The top-ranked countries, i.e. the lowest ranked, were Poland, Spain and Belgium.
Another way to compare Sweden to the rest of Europe is to look at excess mortality in 2020 and 2021 compared to “average monthly deaths” from 2016 to 2019.
Since February 2020, the total number of deaths (measured as a percentage of the 2016-2019 average) has been lower in Sweden than in the “EU 27” for fourteen out of eighteen months.
Admitting that Denmark, Norway and Finland all compare favorably to Sweden, most other European countries cannot boast of such things.
Compared with France, excess monthly deaths in Sweden were lower for thirteen out of eighteen months during this period. The comparisons were similar when looking at the Netherlands, Spain and Italy. Indeed, among the great European nations, only Germany does better than Sweden.
So, yeah, if we insist on picking exactly three countries to compare Sweden to i.e. Finland, Denmark, and Norway, Sweden looks like kind of an outlier. But with most of the rest of Europe, plus the UK, Sweden compares well. Moreover, even if Sweden was “about the same” as other European countries, it would still contradict the doom prophecies uttered by public health technocrats.
None of this of course “proves” that Sweden has adopted the ideal response to the spread of disease. But at the very least, the Swedish experience betrays the solemn predictions of so many health “experts” who predicted utter disaster for Sweden. Moreover, although Sweden made to perform worse than most countries in Europe would not justify the widespread destruction of human rights necessary to force people into isolation, unemployment and social isolation. The utilitarian approach is a path to unfettered state power. But even the utilitarian approach doesn’t work for lockdown advocates who fail even on their own measures.
* About the Author: Ryan McMaken is Editor-in-Chief at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for the Betting Thread and Power and market, but read the article guidelines first.
Source: This article was published by the MISES Institute