Sweden famously chose a herd immunity policy during Covid and deliberately withheld life-saving support from seniors, giving them morphine instead of oxygen when they had plenty of oxygen. It wasn’t triage, it was murder. There are many claims that they did well due to their policy. Did they?

Let’s take per-capita deaths as our proxy. Sweden(196.15) did do better than the US (316.83) and the UK ( 302.59) in deaths per 100,000 population. However, they did worse than all their sister-Scandinavian states: Norway (
72.92) Denmark (118.93) and Finland (100.65).

Their death toll was almost 3x Norway’s, the best performer, and somewhat over half again as much as Denmark’s, the worst performer among the other Scandinavian countries. They did worse than Germany (176.90) but slightly better than France (237.39).

All of these countries are, however, pathetic compared to good performers. Japan (30.87), South Korea (51.92), Vietnam (44.29) and China (1.06).

All of these numbers come from the John Hopkins chart. I have to say that I don’t believe some of the statistics. Russia and India had much higher mortality than the chart indicates, for example. Some will suspect that China falls into the same camp, but the people I know in China support the idea that China’s zero Covid has largely worked. The rare exceptions, Hong Kong and Shanghai, did not follow the same policies as other cities. But even if one were to assume that fatalities were 10X as large as stated, China would still have massively outperformed.

The truth is that most countries completely cocked up Covid. They shutdown way too late in each wave, they didn’t quarantine properly, they didn’t put filtration into buildings and they didn’t massively limit international travelers and make quarantine for those travelers who remain mandatory, supervised and supported.

If we had just properly shut down early (and stayed shut down a bit longer), tracked and traced and quarantined we could possibly have ended Covid early. If we had not been told Covid vaccines were a silver bullet, rather than like weaker flu vaccines (have to take them multiple times, they aren’t that effective) and used proper public health policy, a hell of a lot less people would have died.

As for Sweden. Solidly middle of the pack, worse than their peer Scandinavian countries and deliberately murdered old people. Sweden’s GDP growth was nothing spectacular in 2021: middle of the pack. Inflation was solidly middle of the pack, though better than their peer Scandinavian countries.

It’s fair to say that Sweden’s Covid performance wansn’t terrible among developed nations and not as disastrous as many (including myself) thought it would be. But Sweden is nowhere near best in class, or among its Scandinavian peers. The sad truth is that virtually all Western countries blew it and Sweden is among that group.

It’s not that shutdowns don’t work, contra the propaganda, it’s that for them to work you have to do them early, keep them on long enough (though by doing them early virtually all of China’s shutdowns have lasted less time than Western ones) and support people at home with food deliveries and so on so they can actually stay at home. Paid sick days of essential workers were needed, and people going out to grocery shop and so on probably did a great deal of danger. Once schools were opened up, Covid numbers surged first in schools, then to the general population.

Sweden’s no great victory, but it does show that most of what the West did was ineffective. Effective public health measures, where they were done, reduced mortality and cases significantly, but in the West we did everything half-assed, and that’s what our numbers show. Sweden had the grace to mostly not even bother.

People don’t support shutdowns and other public health measures because they didn’t work well because they were done badly. If they had worked they would have wide support.

So the lesson of Sweden (minus their deliberate murder of seniors) is simply do it properly.