When people think of polarized countries, they rarely mention Sweden. At least it was like that before 2020.
The Swedish decision to “take the coronavirus pandemic lightly” – ignoring the rigid lockdowns and relying mainly on social responsibility to encourage detachment – has made the country the target of much criticism.
Many analysts said that Sweden was being irresponsible and selfish in refusing to impose an economic lockdown like most other countries around the world.
Although the per capita mortality rate remained far below from European neighbors like the UK, Belgium and Spain – countries that have imposed strict lockdowns – Sweden has become, in the words of a CBS reporter, “an example of how not to deal with Covid-19”.
As noted earlier, however, the fact that Sweden was attacked has less to do with the results of the measures and more to do with the character these measures. There were “warning” examples like Belgium, a country with a similar population, but whose per capita mortality rate is 50% higher than that of Sweden.
Unlike Sweden, however, Belgium imposed a strict lockdown which, as the BBC reported in May, was enforced “with drones in parks and fines for all those who circumvented the rules of social distance”. But nobody cared about Belgium because they had followed the lockdown script.
Months later, the Swedish decision to ignore lockdowns turns out to be the right one. While much of Europe is suffering a second wave of the disease, Sweden’s figures are going in the opposite direction. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization and thousands of doctors and public health officials today stand against lockdowns as a way to contain the virus.
The reason for this is obvious. While the damage caused by lockdowns is clear – trillions of dollars in losses, deteriorating mental health and social decay – there is no evidence that these measures have reduced Covid-10 deaths or the spread of the virus.
Musk: Sweden was right
The results of the Swedish strategy become more evident with each passing day. And more and more people are starting to notice this.
“Sweden was right,” tweeted Tesla founder Elon Musk recently.
Musk, of course, has suspected the effectiveness of lockdowns for months.
Still in May, he dared to resume production at the Tesla plant in Fremont, California, defying government orders that the facility remain closed.
“Tesla is resuming production today, against the rules of Alameda County,” tweeted Musk at the time. “I will be on the production line with everyone. If someone is arrested, I ask it to be just me ”.
Musk’s act of civil disobedience paid off. Alameda County health officials withdrew from the decision, revoking the plant’s closure order and temporarily approving the reopening of the complex.
The consequences of lockdowns
Covid-19 is serious. As of mid-October, nearly 1.1 million people worldwide had died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Among them, there were 216,000 Americans.
Unlike previous pandemics, however, human costs have been accompanied by a worldwide recession and an economic collapse unprecedented in contemporary history. (This seems to confirm the previous analysis Musk that the danger of panic was a greater threat than the virus itself).
As Harvard economist David M. Cutler and former World Bank chief economist Lawrence H. Summers note, the costs of the 2020 Pandemic are unlike anything the contemporary world has ever seen.
“The production losses of this magnitude are immense. The loss of production in the Great Depression was 75% less ”, write the authors. “The economic loss is twice as large as the monetary cost of all the wars that the United States has fought since September 11, 2001, including the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.”
The economic consequences of lockdowns are undeniable. Meanwhile, there is little evidence that they have saved lives. In fact, new research suggests that lockdowns have increased the spread of the virus.
Unfortunately, many people still want to deny data and science. As an analyst at Washington
Examiner, the more promising Sweden’s numbers look, the angrier people get.
This is the danger of politicizing the virus. It hides the reality. Many seem willing to defend the lockdown because it was created to help people (or perhaps because President Trump resisted such measures), but that kind of reasoning should be avoided.
“One of the biggest possible mistakes is judging measures and programs by their intentions, not results,” said Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman.
Instead of rejecting Sweden and states like South Dakota, which exposed the failures of the lockdowns, we should be grateful.
Without them, we might never have discovered the truth that is becoming more obvious by the day: the lockdowns have failed.
Jonathan Miltimore is managing editor of FEE.org. His writings have appeared in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News and Star Tribune.
© 2020 FEE. Published with permission. Original in English