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Making Sense of Sweden

 
Old 10-12-20, 10:10 AM
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Making Sense of Sweden

I don't think this exists as an article that can be linked to, it is the NYT morning digest that gets emailed out as like an index of links to other NYT stories. But today it is more single-topic than usual, like an article, and it's interesting.

Making sense of Sweden

The White House event to celebrate Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination — a gathering that appears to have spread the coronavirus — would have violated the law in Sweden.

It was too large. More than 200 people attended the Barrett celebration. In Sweden, public events cannot include more than 50 people. Anyone who organizes a larger gathering is subject to a fine or up to six months in prison.

If you’ve been following the virus news out of Sweden, this fact may surprise you. Sweden has become notorious for its laissez-faire response. Its leaders refused to impose a lockdown in the spring, insisting that doing so was akin to “using a hammer to kill a fly.” They also actively discouraged mask wearing.

Ever since, people in other countries who favor a more lax approach have held up Sweden as a model. Recently, as new cases have surged in other European countries, some of Sweden’s defenders have claimed vindication.

How are you supposed to make sense of all this? Several readers have asked me that question, and the answers point to some lessons for fighting the virus. I think there are three key ones from Sweden:

1. It is not a success story. Over all, Sweden’s decision to let many activities continue unabated and its hope that growing immunity to the virus would protect people does not look good. The country has suffered more than five times as many deaths per capita as neighboring Denmark and about 10 times as many as Finland or Norway.

“It was a terrible idea to do what they did,” Janet Baseman, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington, told me.
By The New York Times | Sources: Johns Hopkins University, World Bank

2. But Sweden did more than some people realize. It closed schools for students ages 16 and older. It encouraged residents to keep their distance from one another. And it imposed the ban on big gatherings, which looks especially smart now.

Compared with other viruses, this one seems especially likely to spread in clusters. Many infected people don’t infect a single other person, while “as few as 10 to 20 percent of infected people may be responsible for as much as 80 to 90 percent of transmission,” The Atlantic’s Zeynep Tufekci has explained.

Given this, it’s less surprising that Sweden’s recent virus performance looks mediocre rather than horrible.
By The New York Times | Sources: Johns Hopkins University, World Bank

3. Swedish officials have been right to worry about “sustainability.” Strict lockdowns bring their own steep costs for society. With a vaccine at least months away, societies probably need to grapple with how to restart activities while minimizing risk.

Sweden’s leaders do not seem to have found the ideal strategy, but they are asking a reasonable question. “We see a disease that we’re going to have to handle for a long time,” Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s top epidemiologist, told The Financial Times, “and we need to build up systems for doing that.”

The fact that Sweden is no longer an extreme outlier in new virus cases — even as life there looks more normal than in most places — offers a new opportunity to assess risk.
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Old 10-12-20, 11:14 AM
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WTH is up with Europe shooting up to meet the US all of a sudden at 1000 new cases per million?
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Old 10-12-20, 11:21 AM
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For comparison, I got this from the Oregon Health Authority on October 8.
==========================================================================

A survey of 1,000 Oregonians, conducted by DHM Research, found the following:
  • More than eight in 10 report wearing masks nearly all of the time while in public indoor spaces.
  • More than two in three avoid crowded places.
  • More than six in 10 are staying 6 feet apart when in public.
The survey also found the following about how often people attend gatherings:
  • Half of Oregonians report attending about four or more social gatherings in the previous two weeks.
  • One in five Oregonians say they have attended at least one social gathering of more than 10 people in the past two weeks.
  • 16% of respondents said they participated in 11 or more social gatherings in the previous two weeks.
A separate survey of 468 Latinx Oregonians conducted in Spanish by Lara Media found the following:
  • 87% of respondents report wearing a face mask nearly all of the time while in public indoor spaces.
  • More than half of respondents avoid crowded places.
  • More than six in 10 are staying 6 feet apart when in public.
The survey found different levels of concern about COVID-19 among respondents based on age, geography, political views and race/ethnicity. Latinos expressed higher levels of concern than whites and reported wearing masks more frequently. Members of the Latinx community have accounted for nearly 40% of Oregon’s COVID-19 cases.

Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen said, “These results show that nearly all Oregonians understand it’s important to wear a mask. But fewer Oregonians believe they’re at risk of getting sick and too many people are socializing indoors in bigger groups. It’s hard to sustain the changes we’ve all had to make in our lives to keep ourselves and others safe from COVID-19. But we won’t be able to prevent more infections, and get more schools and businesses open in Oregon, until more people act with urgency and avoid the social super-spreader gatherings that have driven COVID-19 transmission and disease in Oregon.”

Full reports of the DHM and Lara Media surveys can be found at the OHA website.

==========================================================================

Keep in mind, wherever it lists 80% compliance, that means 20% non-compliance.

Overall, the State of Oregon has done better than a number of states. Around here, much of what I'm seeing looks pretty "normal". People are moving around. People are shopping. Etc.

Certain activities have just been shut down though. So, I think the restaurant business is partly open, but is suffering. Movies and entertainment?

Mom does have her house cleaner coming. I see masks EVERYWHERE in stores. A little less so outside on street corners, but they aren't non-existent.
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Old 10-12-20, 11:28 AM
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As far as the White House.

The President of the USA was relying 100% on testing that was 80% accurate (and incurs disease latent period delays). And, apparently gave certain VIPs a pass on getting tested (so 0% testing for those individuals), without telling anybody else that was being done.

An outbreak was inevitable.

Gathering in groups of 100 or 200 people is just fine in the NBA with 0% infection rate. But, let 1 or 2 infected through one's filter, and one ends up with a mess.

And, of course, our President has decided that he is above the law, or community standards.
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Old 10-13-20, 11:58 PM
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I've noticed common factors among all of my Facebook contacts who persistently assert Sweden as the model to follow for the coronavirus pandemic:
  • They're all white.
  • They're all men.
  • They're all inflexibly pro-capitalism, fervently anti-anything they consider "socialism"... (except when it comes to Sweden... and they don't mean Sweden's health care system, other than its soft-euthanasia-by-neglect model for allowing the older and disabled to die.)
  • They're all business owners or work for extremely wealthy corporations.
  • They're all indifferent to the death toll primarily affecting older, disabled and disproportionately non-white Americans.

They never, ever cite as examples to follow any of the non-white nations with data equally good as, or better than, Sweden. There are a number of African and Asian nations with COVID data better than Sweden. But these Facebook contacts never mention them, or immediately change the subject whenever anyone attempts to point out the flaws with the Swedish method.

Eventually some proper researchers will make sense of this and determine whether there's a pattern beyond my anecdotal observations.

I'm not saying it's a variation of Aktion T4 through negligence rather than deliberate actions. But if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck...
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Old 10-14-20, 03:36 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
I've noticed common factors among all of my Facebook contacts who persistently assert Sweden as the model to follow for the coronavirus pandemic:
  • They're all white.
  • They're all men.
  • They're all inflexibly pro-capitalism, fervently anti-anything they consider "socialism"... (except when it comes to Sweden... and they don't mean Sweden's health care system, other than its soft-euthanasia-by-neglect model for allowing the older and disabled to die.)
  • They're all business owners or work for extremely wealthy corporations.
  • They're all indifferent to the death toll primarily affecting older, disabled and disproportionately non-white Americans.

They never, ever cite as examples to follow any of the non-white nations with data equally good as, or better than, Sweden. There are a number of African and Asian nations with COVID data better than Sweden. But these Facebook contacts never mention them, or immediately change the subject whenever anyone attempts to point out the flaws with the Swedish method.

Eventually some proper researchers will make sense of this and determine whether there's a pattern beyond my anecdotal observations.

I'm not saying it's a variation of Aktion T4 through negligence rather than deliberate actions. But if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck...
Yeah, bang on there...
It's the nobuddys gonna tell me what to do crowd mostly... had some fierce arguments on Facebook, they've even got their group of dodgy scientists signing petitions, just like Climate Change.
Meanwhile, my in my state it's business as usual, no community transmission for weeks, bars open, it's just like normal.
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Old 10-14-20, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
(except when it comes to Sweden... and they don't mean Sweden's health care system, other than its soft-euthanasia-by-neglect model for allowing the older and disabled to die.)
This is an interesting comparison, because apparently Sweden has pretty much the 'death-panel' that those same dudes would probably be scapegoating in Obamacare.

They never, ever cite as examples to follow any of the non-white nations with data equally good as, or better than, Sweden. There are a number of African and Asian nations with COVID data better than Sweden.
I hadn't heard about that before. Can you tell/link me more? Are the African nations ending up with a Swed-ish approach through lack of infrastructure, rather than intention?
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Old 10-14-20, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
...Are the African nations ending up with a Swed-ish approach through lack of infrastructure, rather than intention?
According to acquaintances from Africa, or who live in Vietnam, South Korea and other Asian nations, they don't have the same resistance to basic health precautions, or political and economic divisiveness.

I suspect my aforementioned FB acquaintances who prefer to cite only Sweden as the exemplar disapprove of the economic models of Vietnam and some African nations. If a nation is successful in curbing the pandemic, but doesn't share their favored Randian version of freebootery and piracy as an economic model, it doesn't fit their agenda so it's best disregarded.

They claim not to see much value in government, and regard all taxation as theft. Yet most of them earn their income through the government, either directly or as vendors or counselors to the government. It's a peculiar vision of "capitalism" that even the infamous 19th century robber barons wouldn't have recognized, as there was relatively less government treasure to plunder in the name of earning a living as an opportunistic contractor, inspector or advisor.
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Old 10-14-20, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
According to acquaintances from Africa, or who live in Vietnam, South Korea and other Asian nations, they don't have the same resistance to basic health precautions, or political and economic divisiveness.

I suspect my aforementioned FB acquaintances who prefer to cite only Sweden as the exemplar disapprove of the economic models of Vietnam and some African nations. If a nation is successful in curbing the pandemic, but doesn't share their favored Randian version of freebootery and piracy as an economic model, it doesn't fit their agenda so it's best disregarded.
I'm still not getting where Africa fits into it. Are you saying African nations are adopting similar policies to Sweden and getting different results, or getting similar results to Sweden from different policies?
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Old 10-14-20, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
I'm still not getting where Africa fits into it. Are you saying African nations are adopting similar policies to Sweden and getting different results, or getting similar results to Sweden from different policies?
According to BBC World News on radio, which emphasizes Africa after midnight in the US, the COVID-19 positive rates and casualties are remarkably low due to public cooperation -- widespread use of masks, etc. -- with relatively less economic impact. However they'll admit some African nation economies weren't in great shape before the pandemic. They try to put a spin on it by emphasizing how community spirit gets them through tough times.

News reports about the Swedish model often differ from what I hear from actual Swedes, who say the government is putting a positive spin on a policy that's widely regarded as a failure. And disregarding consistent precautions still didn't prevent a heavy economic toll.

That's partly due to the nature of a global economy. If the metric is international trade and business as usual, then every nation based on that paradigm has and will suffer economically. If the metric is the fuzzy gray zone cost of human lives, etc., then some nations that are considered "less wealthy" have fared comparatively better... or, at least, suffered relatively fewer losses because they had less to lose.

I've discovered from FB contacts, some family and friends, that their primary metric for everything in life is transactional. They consider some human lives expendable in pursuit of economic health and, more importantly, personal financial health. So they approve of the Swedish model.
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Old 10-14-20, 06:24 PM
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OK well if you're just saying many African nations are doing better than Sweden, I'm sure that's true, as are so many asian nations, as you mentioned S Korea, Japan, etc.

I just thought you brought up Africa because there was some close analogue between the Swedish and particularly African situations that would help these fasebuch guys understand if they were only willing to listen.

It's a pretty easy case that whatever the U.S. is doing, it's doing it wrong, compared to the rest of the world, even Sweden. The 2nd graph in the OP makes that case pretty easily (except that recent spike of Europe)
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Old 10-14-20, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Sweden's health care system, other than its soft-euthanasia-by-neglect model for allowing the older and disabled to die..
That might be why their COVID death rate isn't higher. They have already disposed of many of the potential victims.
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Old 10-14-20, 07:42 PM
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I think you can make sense of Sweden by comparing Sweden, Norway, and Denmark's covid stats. Sweden's minimal lockdown policy resulted in 5 times (or more) the death rate of its neighbors.
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Old 10-15-20, 12:36 AM
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Sweden is just in the throes of getting a nice second wave... starting to average 700 cases a day and climbing.... no, they aren't special.
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Old 10-15-20, 09:52 AM
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Yes I see that, yet at https://www.worldometers.info/corona...country/sweden you can also see that they've been holding steady at TWO covid deaths nationwide, since the beginning of August. So OK a second wave is not good, but as long as deaths are near 0, it's not that bad. (Not as bad as the US anyways).

Perhaps their first wave 'cleared the underbrush' so there's not a lot of tinder left for the 2nd wave to catch.

And bottom line, if Sweden is the benchmark, as I guess some would like to see, the U.S. is still doing worse than Sweden! They've got 584 dead/1M, and if they are able to continue accumulating only 2/day, that number is done increasing. The U.S. is at 670 dead/1M, and still 700 new deaths/day
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Old 10-15-20, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
Yes I see that, yet at https://www.worldometers.info/corona...country/sweden you can also see that they've been holding steady at TWO covid deaths nationwide, since the beginning of August. So OK a second wave is not good, but as long as deaths are near 0, it's not that bad. (Not as bad as the US anyways).

Perhaps their first wave 'cleared the underbrush' so there's not a lot of tinder left for the 2nd wave to catch.

And bottom line, if Sweden is the benchmark, as I guess some would like to see, the U.S. is still doing worse than Sweden! They've got 584 dead/1M, and if they are able to continue accumulating only 2/day, that number is done increasing. The U.S. is at 670 dead/1M, and still 700 new deaths/day
The longer this goes on, the more I read about it, the more I think about it, the less I actually know what to think.

I have read some analysis about Sweden's response that said they weren't trying for " herd immunity" (whatever that means) as much as trying to find a way to mitigate the spread of the virus without society wide lockdowns that had big repercussions. Judged on that basis its obviously a failure and yet...I think maybe they will come out of the second wave looking better than a lot of places. Time will tell.
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