The Swedish model in retrospect

Cumulative covid deaths in Sweden, the EU and the US (OWD)

Published: June 2021
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Has the ‘Swedish model’ failed or succeeded?

The above chart shows that after more than a year into the pandemic, cumulative confirmed covid mortality in Sweden – without lockdown, mask mandate, and primary school closures – is significantly lower than the average in both the EU and the US. Within the US, the same applies to Florida, especially if adjusted for the mean age of the population. Indeed, a recent cross-country analysis found that neither lockdowns nor PCR testing rates had an impact on covid mortality.

The above chart alone basically invalidates the entire interventionist ‘Western approach’ to the coronavirus pandemic. For this very reason, those who have promoted this unscientific approach cannot show the big-picture mortality data. Instead, they compare Sweden only to its two neighbors, Norway and Finland, which have the lowest covid mortality among all Western non-island countries.

For this misdirection to work, they must conceal the fact that Norway and Finland had even softer measures than Sweden during most of the pandemic, and they must also conceal the true reasons behind the outlier status of Norway and Finland:

First, Norway and Finland implemented early border controls, despite opposition by the WHO and most Western ‘health experts’ at the time. Second, Norway and Finland have by far the lowest population-weighted density (which takes urbanization into account), whereas the population-weighted density of Sweden is similar to the Netherlands (see map below).

The fact that there are hardly any beneficial intermediate stages between the rather relaxed Swedish model and the extreme (but apparently effective) Chinese model very likely has to do with the dominant mode of transmission of Sars-CoV-2: aerosols. Aerosol transmission explains why face masks, “social distancing”, “soft lockdowns”, and most other measures failed to have an effect.

Finally, if one considers Swedish all-cause mortality from 1990 to 2021, one can see that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic was rather limited and reached about 10% of the normal annual mortality (see chart below). The median age of Swedish deaths was about 85 years, and as in many other Western countries, about 50% of deaths occurred in nursing homes.

Europe: Population-weighted density

Population-weighted density of European countries (WorldPop)

Sweden: Covid mortality in comparison

Covid mortality: The full picture (OWD)

Sweden versus Great Britain

British lockdowns, school closures and mask mandates without discernible effect.

Sweden: Mortality, 1990 to 2021

Sweden has had an excess mortality of 10% since the beginning of the pandemic. The following chart shows mortality from August to July, which means that the 2020 covid spring wave is part of the 2019/20 bar, while the 2020 autumn wave is part of the 2020/21 bar.

Sweden: Mortality 1990 to 2021, August to Juli (SCB)

Sweden: Mortality since 1851

The following chart shows yearly mortality in Sweden since 1851.

Sweden: Mortality since 1851 (yearly)

See also


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