THE NEUTRAL ZONE
In response to COVID-19, authorities in Sweden have rejected the strict lockdown models imposed by the majority of the world. While Sweden’s economy has not been impervious to fallout, the nation’s public health officials argue that their approach is more sustainable than severe restrictions on movement and commerce.
Swedish state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said in an international news conference that he estimates 25 percent of Swedes have been exposed to COVID-19, and that the necessary 60 percent benchmark to establish “herd immunity” will likely come in June. In this way, proponents argue Sweden will overcome the bulk of the outbreak at the same time that the rest of the world wrestles with the second wave of outbreaks. Proponents also say that Sweden did not implement an all-or-nothing model, but rather a moderate solution that looks very similar to the “phase two” response that many countries are now embracing.
Mike Ryan, executive director of Health Emergencies for the World Health Organization, called models that project herd immunity a “really dangerous, dangerous calculation.” Achieving herd immunity through vaccinations never has fatal consequences, he argued, but exposure to the virus could. Others point to a number of unique characteristics that allowed Sweden to manage the outbreak but would be difficult to replicate. The country’s populace has a cultural tendency to follow government recommendations, is less obese, and more likely to live in single-person households.
Following an analysis in France that shows just 4.4 percent of the country’s population has been exposed to COVID-19, health officials there and in other European countries warn that without a vaccine, herd immunity will not be enough to avoid a second wave of infections after lockdown.
Should Americans look to Sweden or Germany as a model for combating coronavirus? – Yahoo News – 5/12/2020 Obviously, the U.S. can’t go back in time. But going forward, it would seem Americans have a choice: Try to be more methodical, like Germany — or loosen up for good, like Sweden. The correct answer, as with so much else when it comes to the coronavirus, is that it depends.
Can we trust Covid modelling? More evidence from Sweden – The Spectator – 5/14/2020 The number of patients in ICU has been fairly stable around 500-550 since mid-April. This means that capacity was never exceeded. At this moment, when the models suggested that Sweden would have 30 to 40 patients fighting over every available ICU bed, there is spare capacity in beds, equipment and personnel of around 30 percent (partly as a result of a doubling of the pre-pandemic capacity). One reason why the models failed is that they – just like most countries’ politicians – underestimated how millions of people spontaneously adapt to new circumstances.
Why is Sweden not recommending face masks to the public? – The Local – 5/14/2020 Information about the protection face masks provide is ambiguous. Many countries promote the use of face masks in public spaces. Yet Sweden still does not, even after the latest advice from the European Commission. You’re allowed to wear one, but the guidelines state they are “not needed in everyday life”.
Without A Vaccine, Herd Immunity Won’t Save Us – FiveThirtyEight – 5/13/2020 A number of variables can affect when herd immunity is reached — and what it costs to get there — and they vary depending on the disease. How infectious is the disease? How deadly is it? And how long do people stay immune once they’ve gotten it? Adjusting any of these variables can drastically change the outcome of this equation.
Alfons López Tena on Twitter, 5/14/2020: 22 researchers demand Sweden’s policy to tackle coronavirus to reverse course: “Herd Immunity is a dangerous coronavirus strategy. Instead of letting people die, we should keep people alive until effective treatments and vaccines can be used”
James Gingerich on Twitter, 5/14/2020: Conservative Americans see #CoronaVirus hope in progressive Sweden. (Politico) #COVIDー19 #COVID19
ICFJ on Twitter, 5/14/2020: Why isn’t #Sweden encouraging masks? The science behind it isn’t strong, says Sweden’s chief epidemiologist. The policy is: if you feel sick, stay home. If we ask people to wear masks, they may go out, he said. More from our on-the-record webinar:
(((Howard Forman))) on Twitter, 5/14/2020: We have NO idea of whether asymptomatic/mildly symptomatic patients will have healthy future. This is an entirely novel virus w/features unlike anything we have seen on this scale. We should be cautious abt seeking “herd immunity” wo knowing about immunity or long term effects