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(The Daily Sceptic) — Sweden’s decision not to lockdown in the spring of 2020 was variously described as “deadly folly” (the Guardian), “a disaster” (Time magazine) and “the world’s cautionary tale” (the New York Times).

Yet Sweden confounded its critics. The country’s first wave receded around the same time as Britain’s, and over the succeeding months it crept down the list of countries by official COVID death rate – as others caught-up-with and then surpassed Sweden’s death toll.

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The argument then became: “But Sweden did worse than its neighbours!” Critics would point out that although Sweden did okay compared to the rest of Europe, it did worse than the other Nordic countries.

This was a weak argument at the time, as I’ve noted before. But now its premise is actually false: Sweden did not do worse than the other Nordics.

As you may recall, back in November of 2021 Britain’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) published estimates of age-adjusted excess mortality for most of the countries in Europe. These showed that up to June of 2021, Sweden had negative excess mortality – fewer people died than usual. On the other hand, its excess mortality was less negative than that of the other Nordic countries.

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The ONS has now published updated estimates of age-adjusted excess mortality, which run all the way up to July of 2022. And they show that Sweden’s excess mortality is lower than Finland’s, Denmark’s, and Iceland’s; only Norway did better.

C/O: The Daily Sceptic
The chart has been cropped; only the six lowest are shown.

Between January 2020 and July 2022 (blue dots), Sweden’s age-standardised mortality rate was 4 percent lower than the five-year average. By contrast, Iceland’s was 3.9 percent lower, Denmark’s was 2.8 percent lower, and Finland’s was 1.7 percent lower. This means that Sweden did better than three out of four other Nordics.

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In the summer of 2020, Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said, “Judge me in a year.” One year later, Sweden’s excess mortality was below the European average.

We can now judge him again, more than two years later: Sweden’s excess mortality is the second lowest in Europe. On top of that, Sweden saw the second smallest increase in national debt of all European countries.

Tegnell got it right, and his critics got it wrong.

Reprinted with permission from The Daily Sceptic.

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