Things are getting more complicated in the Nordics in the wake of the unfolding second wave of the pandemic:
My last update on Nordics vs Sweden comparatives was a month ago, although I did post some more recent data trends on Twitter since then. Here are the latest numbers:
New deaths counts are relatively benign, both in Sweden and (at a higher rate) in the rest of the Nordics. However, new daily counts in thee Nordics ex-Sweden are literally out of control as a new, and much larger wave of the pandemic sweeps EU27.
Sweden entered the second wave of the pandemic with a delay, compared to other European states, so its numbers are still lagging those in other Nordic states.
I commented on the often-heard argument in favour of Sweden's 'herd immunity' strategy earlier today and you can read it here, if you missed it (bottom of the post): https://trueeconomics.blogspot.com/2020/10/231020-covid19-update-countries-with.html.
It appears, based on Sweden's (amongst others') experiences, that we really have very limited options in terms of public policy response to the pandemic. My five cents, based on multiple observations of experts' advice: we need
- Fully enforceable and strongly policed public distancing measures,
- Mandatory masks in all public places,
- Restricted (though, probably, not banned) access to public commons and public places,
- Effective and wide-spread free testing on demand,
- Aggressive tracing and strictly enforced quarantines,
- Improved separation of COVID19 patients from all general health facilities (in order to ensure that normal health services provision is not impacted by the pandemic), and
- Significant increase in spending on public health and education so both key sectors of the society can be opened safely and sustainably.
Anything short of these will result in stop-and-go swings of the pandemic and knee-jerk policy reactions with rolling shutdowns of the entire economies.
Sweden is not acquiring the fabled 'herd immunity', folks. And other Nordics are now in a full-blown second wave of the pandemic:
As the figures above show,
- Sweden has been experiencing a reduction in new cases through the first week of September. This resulted in Swedish daily case counts finally dropping below the numbers reported in other Nordic countries.
- Since the start of September, Nordics ex-Sweden have entered the second wave of Covid19 pandemic, further exacerbating their relative position compared to Sweden.
- However, Sweden itself is now experiencing the second wave of the pandemic, and Sweden's historical troughs of new cases have remained always higher than the troughs reached by the other Nordic states.
- Both Sweden and the rest of the Nordics continue to enjoy low levels of deaths, however, in line with the numbers of new cases, Nordics ex-Sweden are showing signs of the new wave of the pandemic lifting deaths counts relative to the past troughs.
I have not updated the controversial comparatives between the Nordics (ex-Sweden) and Sweden in terms of COVID19 pandemic figures for some time now. For those of you who are out of the loop in this controversy,
- Sweden imposed weak restrictions (basically none) on mobility and work environments in the wake of the pandemic, pursuing the strategy of 'herd immunity';
- Other Nordics imposed severe crack downs on mobility and social and work environments in response to COVID19 pandemic.
- As of September 12, Sweden has the total number of 89,377 cases. Nordics ex-Sweden, normalized to the Swedish population size had 35,277 cases, or 39.5% of the total number of Swedish cases. So to-date, Sweden has experienced significantly greater exposure to the virus than its Nordic countries counterparts.
- As of September 12, Sweden has the total number of 5,829 deaths. Nordics ex-Sweden, normalized to the Swedish population size had 2,188 cases, or 37.5% of the total number of Swedish deaths. Sweden also experienced much higher death counts from the pandemic than its Nordic countries counterparts.
- Notably, per first chart above, since 26-27th of August, Nordic ex-Sweden have experienced a rather substantial re-acceleration in new cases, in line with the rest of the EU27 (see more on this here: https://trueeconomics.blogspot.com/2020/09/12920-covid19-update-us-vs-eu27.html). Sweden is only appearing to show signs of such re-acceleration starting with the end of the first week of September.
- The above change in trends for new cases is yet to translate into change in trends in deaths: in the last 7 days, average daily new deaths for Nordics ex-Sweden, adjusting for population differences, was 0.83. The same number fo Sweden was 1.57. In the prior 14 days, the averages were reversed at 1.034 and 0.571, respectively.