According to new excess mortality data compiled by Eurostat and Reuters, Sweden emerged from 2020 with a smaller increase in its overall mortality rate than most European countries in spite of eschewing the lockdown policy. Reuters has more.
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.
Sweden’s excess mortality also came out at the low end of the spectrum in a separate tally of Eurostat and other data released by the UK’s Office for National Statistics last week.
That analysis, which included an adjustment to account for differences in both the age structures and seasonal mortality patterns of countries analysed, placed Sweden 18th in a ranking of 26. Poland, Spain and Belgium were at the top.
Lockdown enthusiasts often point to the lower excess mortality in the other Nordic countries, implying that had Sweden locked down it would have had even lower excess mortality. Against this, two things can be said. The first is the point made by Dr Paul Yowell which is that if you include the Baltic states among Sweden’s neighbours – and there is no non-arbitrary reason for not doing so – Sweden’s excess mortality begins to look less atypical for the region. The second is the argument made by Dr Oliver Robinson which is that Finland itself didn’t lock down, so pointing to Finland’s lower excess mortality than Sweden’s is not an argument in favour of lockdown.
The Reuters piece is worth reading in full.
Stop Press: MailOnline has summarised the Reuters story here.