If lockdowns worked, we would expect Sweden, which did not impose one, to top the mortality table, and for the pandemic curve to have risen exponentially, as predicted by the notorious Imperial College model. This predicted that without a lockdown Sweden would have 44,000 dead by now. But Sweden’s actual figure is not nearly that large.
The answer, despite the best efforts of the BBC, which during this pandemic has degenerated into a supine propaganda arm supporting the autocratic lockdown imposed by the British government, is quite obviously, from its own article, that it has succeeded.
A look at the graph of mortality confirms this. It is exactly the same shape as that everywhere else has where the infection has been active as long, regardless of lockdowns: a skewed bell curve, tapering away as we approach the present. This shows unambiguously that this decline in cases, and deaths, is nothing to do with lockdowns.
The article, as lockdowners tend to do when confronted with the awkward fact of Sweden, brandishes at length the red herring of lower mortality per capita in Norway and Denmark. Such a comparison ignores the crucial fact that Norway and Denmark lack the large urban sprawls of Greater Stockholm, Malmo, and Gothenberg, where the overwhelming majority of Swedes live. This misleading comparison also avoids all mention of the embarrassing fact of higher mortality per head in other European countries which locked down harshly.
A look at the figures, generally regarded as authoritative and as accurate as are available, on the Worldometer and Johns Hopkins University websites is most illuminating.
As of July 24, Sweden has 55.74 deaths/100,000 population, according to the Johns Hopkins figures, compared with 58.7 in Italy, 60.84 in Spain and 68.64 in Britain, all countries which imposed draconian nationwide lockdowns. Belgium, which locked down early and hard, has 85.9 deaths/100k.
It is worthy of note that Belgium’s neighbour, the Netherlands, had less than half its mortality rate, at 35.74, even though Belgium locked down earlier and harder than Holland. As with Sweden and Norway, this difference is more likely to reflect demographic, geographic, and social differences between neighbouring countries rather than the value, or otherwise, of lockdowns.
Incidentally, the real outlier is Germany, at 10.99, although Germany did not lock down any harder than any other European country, and notably less so than its neighbour France (45.6). Whatever Germany did right, it has nothing to do with lockdowns.
If lockdowns worked, we would expect Sweden, which did not impose one, to top the mortality table, and for the pandemic curve to have risen exponentially, as predicted by the notorious Imperial College model. This predicted that without a lockdown Sweden would have 44,000 dead by now, rather than the actual figure as of July 24 of 5,676.
Significantly, about half, possibly more, of the COVID deaths in Sweden were nothing to do with the question of lockdowns. There, as in Britain and certain US states, they were caused by decanting infected old people from hospitals into care homes in the panic to avoid health systems “being overwhelmed” (which never happened there or here). As Helena Nordenstedt, clinical epidemiologist and researcher in global health, is reported as saying in the BBC article, “The strategy was to flatten the curve, not overwhelm health care capacity. That seems to have worked. If you take care homes out of the equation, things actually look much brighter.”
Additionally, in Sweden, if not in the UK, old people sick with COVID who could have recovered were, it appears, denied treatment and so died needlessly because old people with this disease were not admitted to hospitals, again because it was feared, again wrongly on the basis of panicky “models,” that there was insufficient capacity. As this article reveals, younger patients were prioritised and older ones left needlessly to die.
It was this, not failing to lock down, that Anders Tegnell, the Chief Epidemiologist to whom Sweden’s politicians widely handed over policy in the pandemic, has repeatedly said he regrets. This is tendentiously reported, again and again, as Dr. Tegnell “regretting Sweden’s no-lockdown policy,” whereas he has made it clear that he harbours no such regrets.
The BBC report notes that the Swedish economy has shrunk, without balancing this by noting that it has done so by much less than those countries which shut down their economies through lockdown, nor does it acknowledge that the impact on the Swedish economy is a knock-on result of the economic implosion of the lockdown countries. Swedish exports from companies such as Volvo, Scania, and Saab could hardly escape the consequences of the collective lockdown of the countries with which they do business.
The BBC article fails to mention that the Swedish government has not put future generations of its people in debt by borrowing vast sums to pay its workforce not to work, nor maimed the prospects of its children by shutting the nation’s schools. Furthermore, it has not ruined the businesses and livelihoods of tens or hundreds of thousands of small-business people, nor put millions of its people out of work. While the benefits of lockdowns are still, at best, unclear, the dire and long-lasting costs are becoming more unambiguously evident by the day.
Also, of course, Sweden has nothing to fear from a “second wave” of the virus. Indeed Sweden—and possibly other countries—may well have achieved a level of herd immunity which is already suppressing the virus. Why else is it dying away now when nothing has changed in terms of policy in Sweden since March?
As Dr. Tegnell rightly observes, “this is a marathon, not a sprint.” When the pandemic is eventually over, Sweden, on the evidence so far, will emerge as a clear winner. If this is so, Britain’s Boris Johnson and other leaders across the West who have cast aside their peoples’ hard-won civil liberties and imposed on them an unprecedented tyranny, trashing not only their freedom but their prosperity, will have some difficult questions to answer.
The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.
 The article is available here.
 Maddy Savage, “Coronavirus: What’s going wrong in Sweden’s care homes?,” BBC News (May 2020).
The featured image is courtesy of Pixabay.