Among other things, the no-lockdown Nordic country emerged as being among the worst in reducing the R-number, isolating its citizens, and reducing the number of patients in intensive care units.
Sweden has received bottom tier grades in several measurements in a new report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on how European countries have been handling the pandemic.
The OECD evaluated 31 European states’ behaviour during the pandemic and what effect the pandemic has had on their societies and economy. In the words of Swedish national broadcaster SVT, this is gloomy reading for Sweden.
Among other things, Sweden, which has since the onslaught of the pandemic largely pursued a standalone approach, with no lockdowns, no mask obligations, and mostly recommendatory measures, has been criticised for major problems in reducing the R-number. The latter refers to how many people a sick person infects on average. On average, it took 34 days for European countries to bring the R-number down to below 1, as opposed to 58 days for Sweden. This compared with 18 days for Iceland and 27 days for Norway.
Sweden also received failing grades for isolation and ICU patients. Between March and May, residents of the countries surveyed had their mobility reduced by an average of 15.1 percent, according to the OECD. The mobility of Spain’s residents decreased the most, by 22.2 percent, while Swedes saw the least decrease, just 7.4 percent.
The OECD also berated Sweden for the significantly longer time it took the country to reduce the number of new patients in intensive care units. While France and the Netherlands were able to reduce the number of new entrants by 80 percent in three to four weeks, it took eleven weeks for Sweden to do the same.
Journalist Emanuel Karlsten described state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell as rather interested by the results. Tegnell called the report “an exciting and in many parts, interesting comparison”. According to Tegnell, though, the report didn’t take into account the context in each country and their decisions.
“The different curves are extremely context-dependent and it is very difficult to make these different conclusions”, Tegnell told Karlsten.
Tegnell admitted that the mortality rate in Swedish nursing homes was an outlier and wished “we knew then what we know today”.
At the same time, the report credited Sweden’s lassez-faire approach for having little adverse effect on the economy compared with the full lockdowns experienced in other countries. Sweden was also found to stand well in the number of daily tests administered per 100,000 inhabitants. At 243 tests, Sweden is well above the OECD average of 123.
The OECD also pointed out that their study, based on statistics from February to the end of October, only yielded “initial results” and should not be considered a definitive review.
Sweden, a nation of over 10 million, has seen almost 209,000 cases and 6,406 deaths, with COVID-19 being the third-highest cause of death behind cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Last week, a batch of previously unheard-of restrictions was introduced.