Category Archives: #CoronaOutbreak

10/5/21: COVID19: Nordics v Sweden

Updating data on comparatives between Sweden (the 'natural experiment' for 'Covid19 is just a flu' crowd, albeit the pandemic was not treated as such in the country itself) and the Nordics.

Note: I define three groups of 'Nordics' by composition.

First, for completeness: case counts:

The above is self-explanatory, but open to arguments concerning diagnostics and tests accuracy. Hence, let's take a look at deaths counts, which are much harder to 'fudge' for the 'Covid19 is a flu' crowd:

In simple terms, Sweden's policy approach to the pandemic, as contrasted by other Nordics, has resulted in 

  • 6,137 deaths in excess of Nordics 3 group (Finland, Norway, Estonia, Iceland, the Netherlands and Denmark)
  • 11,219 more deaths than (population-comparable) Nordics 2 group (Finland, Norway, Estonia, Iceland), and
  • 12,512 deaths in excess of Nordics 1 group (Finland and Norway).
Here are country-by-country comparatives: 

2/4/21: COVID19: Nordics v Sweden

Sweden continues to perform poorly compared to peer countries, irrespective of how one defines Nordic countries as a group:

As table above shows, Sweden is the worst performer, by a large margin than any other Nordic or Northern European country when it comes to deaths from Covid19 pandemic.

Per charts below, adjusting for population differences, Sweden performs worse than any Nordic group of countries configuration imaginable in cases and deaths counts:

These facts are now recognized by policymakers in Sweden itself, even though the country continues to be a poster-child for the Covid19 denialists around the world.

14/2/21: COVID19 Update: Sweden and Nordics

Prior posts on COVID19 stats updates covered:

Lastly, let's run through comparatives for COVID19 dynamics in Sweden vis-a-vis the rest of the Nordics.

No matter how you define the Nordics:
  • As Sweden's closest land-linked neighbors of Finland and Norway (Nordics 1); or
  • Adding to the two above Estonia and Iceland (Nordics 2); or
  • Expanding the set to also include Netherlands and Denmark
there is only one conclusion than can be drawn from the above charts: Sweden is not doing too well in terms of cases recorded and in terms of deaths recorded through the pandemic so far.  Sweden's mortality rate per capita is substantially (86%) higher than that of the Nordics 3. 

Here is just how poor Sweden's performance has been:

3/1/21: Covid19 update: Sweden vs Nordics


As before, let's conclude the latest update of the Covid19 trends data with analysis covering comparatives between Sweden and other Nordics. 

Sweden is commonly used as a shining example of 'saving the economy' by not 'panicking' into severe mobility restrictions. This argument is commonly used by the folks who tend to believe in sinister Big State conspiracies around other countries' responses to the pandemic.

Sweden started the pandemic by openly pursuing the strategy targeting 'herd immunity'. In this, the country approach to the pandemic containment was similar to that of the Netherlands. However, unlike Sweden, the Netherlands quickly reversed this approach and switched to the more common policy response of imposing severe mobility restrictions.

When it comes to the Nordic countries, there has been both some significant heterogeneity in Covid19 policies responses and some shared experiences. To reflect some of these, I look at three Nordics groupings to compare these with Sweden:

  • Nordic 1 group comprising Sweden's immediate neighbors of Norway and Finland. This is the 'closest' group to Sweden as the three countries share relatively open borders and, in normal times, have no mobility restrictions between them. All three countries are physically remote from the rest of Europe, with far less mobility across borders to third countries than, say, Belgium or the Netherlands.
  • Nordic 2 group adds Iceland and Estonia to the first group. Iceland is, obviously, an island nation that is also relatively well isolated in physical terms, making its border controls more effective. Estonia is a country that is not physically isolated, but shares less physical land-based borders with the rest of the EU (ex-Finland). Both, N1 and N2 groups are, therefore, characterized as those countries which can impose more effective control of their borders for the purpose of isolating during the pandemic.
  • Nordic 3 group adds two key countries that have much less capacity to isolate from the Continental EU states: Denmark and the Netherlands. 
So, here are the updated charts, in which I adjust all three groups to normalize cases and deaths numbers to Sweden's population scale:

As of the end of 2020, cumulative excess deaths in Sweden compared to other Nordics, adjusting for differences in population sizes are:

  • 7,545 more deaths in Sweden than in Nordics 1 group of Finland and Norway;
  • 7,359 more deaths in Sweden than in Nordics 2 group of Finland, Norway, Estonia and Iceland; and
  • 3,808 more deaths in Sweden than in Nordics 3 group of Finland, Norway, Estonia, Iceland, Denmark and the Netherlands.
Put differently, between 3,800 and 7,545 more deaths took place in Sweden than in its relatively comparable European neighbors, primarily because Swedish Government prioritized economic well-being over public health.

4/12/20: COVID19 Update: U.S. vs EU27

EU27 vs U.S. comparatives for COVID19 pandemic to-date:

  • The U.S. retains higher death rate per 1 million population (844.6), than the EU27 (624.4). 
  • Current U.S. death rate per capita is 35% above the EU27, though this gap is still closing (it was 42% a week ago).
  • Gross counts of deaths in the U.S. >> the EU27 over 12/07 - 1/12.  This was reversed on 2/12, with total EU27 deaths currently at 278,914 vs the U.S. 276,316. 
  • Adjusting deaths to account for a 1 week lag in the onset of pandemic in the U.S., relative to the EU27, current U.S. deaths are 21,435 above those in the EU27
  • Adjusted for population and pandemic timing differences, the U.S. deaths are 77,048 above those in the EU27.
  • While the EU27 led the U.S. in new deaths and case counts through 20/11, since then, the U.S. has retaken the lead in new cases counts. 
  • Daily deaths counts in the U.S. are now expected to start exceeding those in the EU27 once again.

Starting with 20/11/2020, the U.S. once again overtaken the EU27 in the number of daily reported cases, based on 7-days moving average:

The data above is yet to reflect massive potential contagion event of Thanksgiving travel in the U.S. and the related movements of students from and back to the colleges and universities that allowed in-person teaching in the Fall 2020 semester.

Shorter lags between contagion and diagnosis of COVID19 cases imply longer lags between new cases arrivals and hospitalisations, which in turn further elongates the lags between new cases detection and associated deaths counts. This is clearly evident from comparing the following figure dynamics with prior figure dynamics:

Put differently, current better performance by the U.S. compared to the EU27 in the second wave of the pandemic in terms of daily deaths counts is unlikely to remain for much longer. EU27 daily deaths trend appears to have peaked about a week ago, while the U.S. deaths trend remains upward-running. 

Little comfort for the wicked... right? 

As the chart above shows, even with more favourable deaths dynamics during the current wave of the pandemic, the U.S. deaths per capita remain horrifically above those in the EU27. Worse, over the last four days, we are seeing some tentative signs that the EU27 daily deaths counts might be moderating. Meanwhile, the opposite is taking place in the U.S.