When my Wife and I immigrated to America from Sweden and Denmark in the late 60’s we noticed that the girls seemed to sing and play “ring around the roses” everywhere. Being curious I asked them what it meant, but of course nobody knew, they just liked to sing it. Those were innocent times.
How was this pandemic compared to earlier times?
The song refers to the black plague, happening in the mid 14th century A.D., when around 30 percent of the Swedish population died. It was so bad that some villages died out completely, and I know of one such village that did not get resettled until the end of the Little Ice Age. The movie “The Seventh Seal”, one of the best movies of all time has a scene where an exhausted knight plays chess with Death, and is convinced he is winning, upon which Death simply explains “I cheat”.
So, is there cheating going on with the statistics?
It so happens that Sweden, which used to include Finland, and Denmark, which used to include Norway and Iceland, have nearly complete church record since the reformation, and in many cases even since Catholic times. Everybody belonged to the church, and the pastors were very jealous that no one was missed, they were concerned for the soul of everyone in the congregation, and as a side note, that was how they collected taxes. Here a historical view of the the pandemic statistics for Sweden.
So, how did the world react to this statistical blip?
Most countries reacted with a lockdown of one form or another, Sweden alone decided to stick it out, keep production and transport as usual, only limit large gatherings. The result seemed horrendous at first. Then President Trump tweeted this:
What President Trump did was to let the States decide how to implement the lockdown, if at all. Most states did a lockdown, Florida decided to protect the vulnerable and elderly first, New York, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California decided to send elderly Covid patients to their nursing homes and South Dakota did not do a lockdown. After all, health care is a State matter according to the 10th amendment.
We now have the statistics from 5 countries and 7 States:
Sweden, no lockdown: Cases per million: 244,634. Deaths per million 1,827
The other four Nordic countries had lockdowns:
Denmark: Cases per million: 507,644. Deaths per million 1,042
Norway: Cases per million: 258,878. Deaths per million 522
Finland: Cases per million: 180,063. Deaths per million 655
Iceland: Cases per million: 532,895. Deaths per million 324
While not technically an independent country, but still Nordic:
Faroe Islands: Cases per million: 704,460. Deaths per million 569
And now for the seven States:
South Dakota, no lockdown: Cases per million: 268,505. Deaths per million 3,279 Florida, limited lockdown: Cases per million: 276,713. Deaths per million 3,437
And now the 5 states that sent COVID patients to nursing homes:
Pennsylvania: Cases per million: 219,096. Deaths per million 3,483 California: Cases per million: 232,625. Deaths per million 2,281 New York: Cases per million: 270,904. Deaths per million 3,533 Michigan: Cases per million: 241,464. Deaths per million 3,598 New Jersey: Cases per million: 252,269. Deaths per million 3,757
The conclusion I can draw from this is that the COVID pandemic will run its course until herd immunity is achieved. Sweden has achieved it, and the other Nordic countries probably have too. As for U.S.A., it seems that it really doesn’t matter much how it was fought, except in the states with the strictest lockdown the children, especially the disadvantaged, lost two years of education, which cannot be regained.
Is there a better way? Look at the experiences of sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world here