For lockdown sceptics, Sweden is exhibit A in the case for the prosecution. Unlike nearly every other Western government, and not a few governments in the developing world, Sweden has not locked down its citizens. Instead, it is following the mitigation strategy the UK Government was pursuing before it was frightened into changing course by Imperial College’s March 16th paper. Restaurants, bars and schools remain open (although schools for over-16 year-olds have closed) and gatherings of up to 50 people are still permitted. Over Easter, Sweden’s ski resorts in the North of the country remained open. And to date, Sweden’s death toll for the year has remained within the normal range.
But there is growing dissent over this policy within Sweden. According to a report in the Guardian on March 30th:
A petition signed by more than 2,000 doctors, scientists, and professors last week – including the chairman of the Nobel Foundation, Prof Carl-Henrik Heldin – called on the Government to introduce more stringent containment measures. “We’re not testing enough, we’re not tracking, we’re not isolating enough – we have let the virus loose,” said Prof Cecilia Söderberg-Nauclér, a virus immunology researcher at the Karolinska Institute. “They are leading us to catastrophe.”
Another reason for not setting too much store by the laissez-faire approach of the Swedish Government is that it may not be doing much to help the Swedish economy, which will likely experience the same contraction as other economies, such as the UK’s, absent a lockdown. The reason, of course, is that people are voluntarily self-isolating even though the Swedish Government isn’t mandating it.
‘All eyes on the Swedish coronavirus experiment‘ by Freddie Sayers, UnHerd, March 20th 2020
‘“They are leading us to catastrophe”: Sweden’s coronavirus stoicism begins to jar‘ by Derek Robertson, The Guardian, March 30th 2020
‘To Swedes, it’s the rest of the world engaging in a reckless experiment‘ by Fraser Nelson, Telegraph, April 2nd 2020
‘Half of Sweden’s population could be infected by coronavirus in April, statistician warns‘ by Chris Pleasance, MailOnline, April 2nd 2020
‘Is Sweden’s lax approach to the coronavirus backfiring?‘ by Pauline Neuding and Tino Sanandaji, Washington Post, April 8th 2020
‘A Closer Look at the Swedish Model‘ by Andrew Smith, Polite, April 18th 2020
‘Stockholm could have herd immunity by the end of the month‘, AOL, April 19th 2020
‘The Swedish experiment looks like it’s paying off‘ by Fredrik Erixon, The Spectator, April 20th 2020
‘Coronavirus: Has Sweden got its science right?‘ by Maddy Savage, BBC News, April 25th 2020
‘If Sweden succeeds, lockdowns will all have been for nothing‘ by Dan Hannan, The Telegraph, April 25th 2020
‘WHO lauds lockdown-ignoring Sweden as a “model” for countries going forward’ by Jackie Salo, New York Post, April 29th 2020