August 10, 2020

Sweden - the case of the COVID-19 curve

Sweden took a "light touch" approach to COVID-19, allowing much of it's population to be exposed to the disease and using primarily voluntary social distancing as the method to prevent the spread of the disease.  Experts in Sweden even said the approach was a mistake.  But the data, the graph does not lie:

Compare that to the response in the United States, and the resulting curve:

Obviously the geography is different in the United States. There's a much bigger land mass, and as the infection spread to new areas, new cases occurred.  So too, new deaths.  The United States has a much larger population than Sweden.  Taking the same approach as Sweden in the U.S. would result in a much larger death toll than otherwise, as Sweden did have the highest death rate from the disease in all of Europe.  As the Washington Post, favoring all things Democrat-panic as it relates to COVID-19,  pointed out:
Deaths in Sweden, though, have been eight times higher than in Denmark and 19 times higher than in Norway, even though Sweden is only double each neighbors’ size.
On the other hand, perhaps all Sweden has done is skip flattening the curve and taking the death toll  hit all at once. After all you cannot keep people isolated forever. It's very likely that Denmark and Norway will continue to see deaths and their death curves lag on for some time as they slowly revert to normal, or else see the lower rates indefinitely as their economies lag behind Sweden's over the longer term. 

It's apparent that there would be far too many deaths in the U.S. if it followed Sweden's approach, what's not clear is whether it would result in more deaths, or just more in a shorter period of time.  Only time and more data will tell.  This is one more example of my 50 Experiments Theorem that if different places try different approaches, it will yield a variety of results from which we can select the best option.  The alternative is one mandate for everyone (in this case in the entire world) and if it doesn't work, we're all going to be screwed.

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