Having recently looked at Danish Covid era mortality in response to an article in the Daily Sceptic by Tracy Beth Høeg, I decided to also look at the Swedish data, because Sweden is often cited as a reason why the mRNA vaccines are not responsible for excess deaths.
This is because Sweden is reputed to have not had a lot of excess deaths during the vaccination period, which ran from 2021 through to 2023, despite having had similar vaccination levels to many other affluent Western countries.
That Sweden had fewer excess deaths is of course a reason to celebrate, because its comparatively mild Covid restrictions have failed to show any worse mortality outcomes overall when measured over the four Covid years.
The argument from critics of the vaccines-are-behind-excess-deaths narrative is that Sweden is the exception proving the rule that vaccines cannot be responsible for causing the excess deaths seen in many countries around the world after mRNA vaccination campaigns. But it is in fact a myth that there were no excess deaths in Sweden between 2021-2023.
It should first of all be noted that Sweden did have a lot of excess deaths in 2020 when the first two waves of Covid struck in April and December of that year. The Swedes were widely criticised for this in the politically-correct media at the time, no doubt mostly due to their lax policy on NPIs.
On closer inspection though, it turns out that a high number of these excess deaths occurred in care homes, killing mostly the elderly. As one research paper noted: “There is a concentration of mortality to vulnerable groups: 91% of deaths occurred among those aged 70-plus.”
I remember at that time State Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell was pressed on TV to explain how this had happened, and he replied that amongst other factors there is an unusually high number of very large care home facilities in Sweden in comparison to other countries. This meant that once an infectious disease reached such a facility, there was a bigger spread amongst the residents.
Anyway, the upshot of all this is that when comparing to other Nordic countries with similar levels of healthcare and mortality rates, Sweden had a much greater ‘front-loading’ of excess deaths at the beginning of the Covid era, which you can see in this chart:
What this means in practice, therefore, is that Sweden had a much higher rate of mortality displacement (MD) – deaths brought forward – weighing down on the rise in excess deaths that began after the vaccination campaigns began. The consequence of this is that although the Swedish excess death curves mirror the shape of those of Denmark and Finland, they lag behind in terms of total numbers, and are only now reaching similar levels.
In fact, at the beginning of 2020 Sweden already had an excess death deficit due to mortality displacement from the previous year which was still being worked off in its mortality statistics, which only adds a further drag to the apparent dearth of excess deaths during 2021-2023. To illustrate this you can see how the very stable death rate jumps up in 2017 and 2018, only to fall significantly again in 2019 when the mortality displacement effect began to bite. The horizontal axis is set at 90,674 which is the 12 year average for 2008 through 2019.
Here are the actual numbers of reported total ACM deaths in Sweden, together with the figure for percentage difference to the 12-year average baseline:
Raw data on all-cause mortality (ACM) for 2023 are unfortunately not available from the Swedish official statistics website.
However there is an excellent EU website, Eurostat, where you can see the excess mortality in all the EU countries directly. It uses a 2016-2019 pre-Covid average baseline to calculate it, so there is none of the usual obfuscation with ASMR (age-standardised mortality rate) or other such models. Such models are now completely out of kilter with reality as a result of the loss of many elderly during the Covid years.
Here the excess mortality is expressed as a percentage difference from the 2016-2019 baseline, which can serve as a crude proxy for the raw data. At the time of writing the latest month reported is November 2023, where Swedish deaths are running 16.5% above baseline. You can infer from this that 2023 is going to be very similar in overall excess death percentage terms in Sweden as occurred in 2022, i.e., a few percent above baseline (when mortality displacement should mean it is below baseline).
In the recent debate in Westminster Hall, MP Andrew Bridgen said this: “If someone is under 50 and lives in Sweden, his or her chances of dying from heart disease were already half that of a resident of the U.K. of the same age.”
This has relevance because if there is a causal link between Covid vaccinations and excess death then it would likely be a cumulative and relatively slow-moving phenomenon. There are some short-term deaths from vaccination which do get picked up by reporting systems like VAERS, but the bulk of deaths may only emerge over time, far removed from linkage possibilities to VAERS, and only gradually pushing the already most compromised individuals over the edge.
Most of the excess deaths in the U.K. since 2021 have been of a cardiovascular nature, so it stands to reason that the better a nation’s cardiovascular health at the start of any intervention with negative outcomes in cardiovascular health, the longer it takes for mortality statistics to show up an increase in deaths and the lower the impact of the intervention. Nations with better cardiovascular health at the outset therefore lag behind those with poorer cardiovascular health in terms of excess deaths.
In summary then, there has in fact been significant excess death in Sweden between 2021-2023, but much of it lies ‘submerged’ behind the deficits built up during the initial Covid waves, and even prior to that. Only now as this effect wanes are Swedish excess deaths playing ‘catch-up’. For instance you can see this tweet on the Eurostat website:
In November 2023, excess mortality continued to vary across the EU. Romania, Malta, Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovakia recorded no excess deaths. The highest excess deaths rates were observed in Finland (40.5%), Austria (20.2%), the Netherlands (18.7%) and Sweden (16.5%).
The similar temporal pattern of excess death in Sweden as elsewhere points to the same factors being in play as has affected the rest of the EU, albeit with slightly different timings and perhaps levels for some of the events. Sweden had lower excess death than the average for the EU during 2021-2023 partly on account of its mortality deficit after the initial Covid waves and its better than average initial cardiovascular health status. But Sweden is now showing signs of moving in the other direction with respect to excess deaths.