Our media would have you believe that Sweden is a war zone. Through vain repetition they have made it appear as though Sweden is in udder pandemonium and that zero precautions have been taken to protect the Swedish people from Covid – but this is simply not true. Instead, Sweden has opted for what I will simply call a common-sense approach. They have taken responsible and rational precautions to protect their citizens while maintaining their citizen’s freedom in the process.
You may want to dismiss this article now, and I wouldn’t blame you – after all, the media here in Canada routinely talks about how terrible Sweden’s approach has been. I’ll put this statement in some context – we have taken the complete opposite approach and it must be justified that this approach was merited.
Having Sweden come off looking favourable or even comparable to other nations who have taken draconian measures to combat Covid simply doesn’t bode well for the media and political class here in Canada and elsewhere – this may explain the demonization of the Swedish model. They can’t appear to have taken a reasonable approach – if their approach was reasonable then ours most certainly is not.
The approach in Canada and around the world has often been at the detriment of rights and freedoms and has cost our economy here in Canada greatly. Many will be quick to say Sweden’s economy has suffered too! Yes, this is true – but it’s also to be expected from an exporting nation as much of the world has shuddered their economies and consumption has likely decreased as a result. It is also a fair statement to say they will be better positioned to recovered economically and that they won’t have lost businesses and jobs to shutdowns.
We will now examine a personal story and some data on Covid in Sweden and let the reader make up their mind.
School precautions in Sweden
In a video from The Telegraph titled “Sweden vs UK: How my life in lockdown-free Sweden is different | Coronavirus”, a parent gives his perspective of life in lockdown-free Sweden. He talks with his children about their experience, in addition to a staff member at the school about what has changed during Covid.
Although the video is from September 27th – I think it’s still illustrative of the differences in approach.
The employee in the video had this to say about the change in school routine since Covid began “we have a lot of time taken away from our classes and our lessons because they have to wash their hands before everything and it takes about 15 minutes every day. We keep distance, we do all of our P.E lessons outside – no inside. We have longer queues for food. I think it’s good for the kids because the kids aren’t from what I know the biggest source of infection and spread of the disease so I think it’s good.”
The father then asked, “And what about from the staff – do you feel you’re in a danger zone?” The school employee replied “I don’t feel it, some do but they stay home. We had a lot of kids stay home for a long time in the beginning but now everyone’s back.”
The man hosting the video continued discussing his personal experience “we haven’t had to stay home and juggle child care with work-life. Which the benefits of that are almost incalculable I think. It’s something that doesn’t get reflected in the statistics – how much people have been able to carry on with work, social, and normal lives in Sweden in a way which just hasn’t been possible almost anywhere else in Europe or you know, almost anywhere else in the world. I felt quite fortunate to have been here during the pandemic.”
Another video we viewed shows how life has continued in no-lockdown Sweden and highlights some of the social distancing measures and other precautions that have been taken. Measures like plexiglass have been installed at restaurants and retail outlets to help limit the spread of germs. You may find it interesting to watch so I’ve included it below.
What recommendations apply for Christmas and New Year’s celebrations?
“Wintertime festivities should be celebrated with a smaller circle of friends and loved ones. It is important to protect at-risk groups and to travel safely.”
Here are some of their recommendations that we’ve translated from Swedish
1.)”Preferably spend time in a small circle, so that you reduce the number of close contacts as much as possible. Socialize preferably in a smaller circle, so that you reduce the number of close contacts as much as possible.”
2.)”Meet people in risk groups in a safe way Elderly people and people who belong to other risk groups are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill. It is therefore important that both people in the risk group and people in their environment ensure that they meet in a safe manner. Here, too, it is important to limit the number of contacts, to keep your distance, to follow the guidelines for hygiene and to ensure that those who show the least symptoms refrain from meeting.”
In essence – stay home and away from high-risk groups if you show even slight symptoms, practice social distancing and practice good hygiene.
Children’s Sports Clubs and leisure activities
3.)”It is important that children can continue with their sports and leisure activities as far as possible. Sports clubs as well as other clubs can still organize activities and individual competitions or matches. However, do not organize cups, camp activities or the like.”
4.) “To avoid the spread of covid-19 you should:
stay at home in case of symptoms of covid-19, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly or use hand sanitizer, and
keep you informed of special recommendations from the Public Health Agency and the regional infection control doctor. Limit new close contacts. You should limit new close contacts by only hanging out with the people you normally meet, such as those you live with or a few friends and relatives outside the household.
If you meet people other than those in your smaller circle, you should:
avoid being close to each other, especially in smaller spaces for a long time, and with advantage hang out outdoors.
Keep distance from others and avoid crowded environments You should keep your distance from other people. This is especially important during longer contacts and when you are indoors.
You should avoid places such as shops, shopping malls and public transport if there is congestion there. If possible, you should shop alone and not stay in e.g. stores for longer than necessary.
Work from home as often as possible. Whenever possible you should agree with your employer to work from home. You should also, if possible, adjust your working hours so that you can avoid congestion in public transport and the workplace.”
(Translation is rough as it was done through Google Translate).
Can I decide for myself whether to get vaccinated?
“Yes. All vaccinations are voluntary in Sweden, including vaccination against COVID-19. If you are offered a vaccination against COVID-19, you will be able to decide for yourself, based on the available knowledge of the disease and the vaccine. You will also be given information about the vaccine before you need to make a decision.”
Who should be tested for a current COVID-19 infection?
“Testing for COVID-19 is always organized in accordance with regional and local guidelines. The Public Health Agency of Sweden recommends adults and school-aged children (including children in preschool class) with symptoms of COVID-19 to take a PCR test to find out if they have a current COVID-19 infection.
We also recommend testing to take place in cases of contact tracing. The test can then be taken even if you don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19. In a situation where the number of suspected cases exceeds the capacity of healthcare services for testing, the regions can decide on temporary adjustments to the regulations for testing.”
What is the fatality rate of COVID-19?
“Globally, it is estimated that 0.5–1 percent of those who are infected with COVID-19 die. There is a clear relationship between increased fatality risk and older age: the older you are, the higher the risk. There are only a few peer-reviewed studies of the infection fatality rate of COVID-19, i.e. the share of infected who die, which means that this might change as new knowledge becomes available.
A study by The Public Health Agency of Sweden estimates the fatality rate in the Stockholm region to 0.6 percent, for all ages. The fatality rate among those 70 years or older is 4.3 percent, whereas it is 0.1 percent among those younger than 70 years.”
This is why at Diverge Media we have advocated for protecting the most vulnerable and not punishing everyone in the process. The fatality rate is very low below the age of 70 in Sweden and elsewhere in the world with most deaths occurring in Long Term Care facilities.
46% of Sweden’s Covid deaths have occurred in Long term care according to the Washington Post and according to another article by the Washington Post written on October, 16th Canada is leading the pact for most deaths in retirement homes as a percentage of total deaths – not a metric you want to win in.
This isn’t exactly shocking either with reports of problems within long term care facilities spanning across decades in Canada (especially Ontario and Quebec) with the infamous military report most recently magnifying the issues within the homes.
“System has been ‘ignored’ and ‘neglected’ for decades, says province’s minister for long-term care”
This further demonstrates the point that lockdowns in Canada especially don’t make sense. If Long term care facilities and retirement homes are already off-limits to the general public – how does a general lockdown help limit those deaths? Why is Canada doing so poorly compared to other countries in regards to this metric.
*Back to frequently asked questions to Sweden Public Health.*
Why are countries acting differently over face masks?
“The scientific evidence around the effectiveness of face masks in combatting the spread of infection is weak, which is why different countries have arrived at different recommendations.
Some countries have chosen to view face masks as a form of security and hope that universal use of face masks will reduce the risk of infection spreading from people who are in the incubation period, before the symptoms are apparent, or who have such mild or unspecific symptoms that they do not consider themselves ill.
The Public Health Agency of Sweden does not recommend the general use of face masks, as a face mask that itches or slips down below the nose may mean a person is regularly touching their mouth, eyes or nose with their hands, which can increase the risk of the infection spreading.
Use of a facemask may also encourage people with mild symptoms to go out into the community, which might increase the spread of infection.”
This is something Diverge Media has echoed numerous times – a facemask makes it easier to hide symptoms of illness which may actually increase infection. This would make our increasing numbers since the mask mandates make sense.
Data worth noting
When we compare deaths per 1 million people it’s worth noting that numerous countries that have locked down haven’t fared better than Sweden who didn’t lockdown. Countries that locked down that have more deaths per million people than Sweden include the United Kingdom, The United States of America, Italy and France. The truth is that comparing results from various approaches is difficult and involves a nuanced discussion of many variables – not just lockdowns.
Difference between average total deaths 2015-2019 compared to 2020
According to https://www.covid19insweden.com/en/deaths.html (may not be up to date), the difference in average deaths per year from 2015-2019 compared to 2020 is 5929 deaths. This means that there were roughly 6000 more deaths (so far as of writing) in 2020. This is in line with what many have been saying – this is the equivalent of a bad flu year.
This doesn’t mean we don’t take precautions. We must acknowledge that this illness is hard on the above 70 category – especially those in retirement homes and long term care facilities. What doesn’t make sense in this context however is locking down the general public who is already prohibited from mixing with this population (LTC and retirement homes).
The bigger questions – what are the long term effects of lockdowns on our nations?
It is also shortsighted and detrimental to view our actions to “combat” Covid through only the lens of today. The economic impacts will have a lasting affect on the quality of life of Canadians for decades. We have wracked up massive debts around the world by shutting down our economies for lockdowns that still don’t eradicate the issue – it keeps coming back. These measures will result in massive tax hikes that will in turn affect our government’s abilities to provide basic services like healthcare – the crux of the issue around Covid in the first place.
We must consider the implications of our actions today on our countries quality of life going forward. What will the lasting impacts of decimating our economy be? Will we be able to pay for our healthcare services in the next 10 years or will the quality of these systems degrade? What about police, fire, and maintenance services that ensure things like water mains and roads get fixed – will they be funded properly or suffer degradation as a result of today’s actions as well?
As I have said before in broadcast – we can’t just expect to flip back on the switch of the economy and expect everything to be alright and to return to normal. We must speak about the long term implications of our actions today – or face the consequences tomorrow.