The Swedish Argument

It’s worth revisiting disease and death in the Scandinavian countries as various US states start opening up their economies. First, a look at the raw case and mortality from that region. Once again, total cases are the solid line for each country and us the Y-scale on the left, deaths are the correspondingly colored dotted lines for each country and use the Y-scale on the right.

One can make a fair argument that using raw data doesn’t always represent information because of different population sizes. The following graph is of the same data that adjusts for population by showing cases and deaths per 100,000 of the population. This also allows graphing both cases and deaths on the same scale on the Y-axis. It’s very clear that Sweden again has much worse problems with their approach of trusting their population. The population totals are from 2018 World Bank data.

Another important thing to consider is whether a healthcare system will be able to handle the volume of people that need care during an outbreak or pandemic. One way to do that is to look at the same approach as adjusting for the population of each country, but instead adjusting for the number of hospital beds per 1,000 people of each country. It should be noted that this does not distinguish between normal and ICU beds. The bed data is from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 2018 or latest available. Note that the number for Denmark is an estimate. Once again, it looks like Sweden is in trouble.

Related to hospital beds, “This indicator provides a measure of the resources available for delivering services to inpatients in hospitals in terms of number of beds that are maintained, staffed and immediately available for use. Total hospital beds include curative care beds, rehabilitative care beds, long-term care beds and other beds in hospitals. The indicator is presented as a total and for curative (acute) care and psychiatric care. It is measured in number of beds per 1,000 inhabitants.”

No matter how you look at it, by raw numbers, by population adjustment, or by hospital beds per population adjustment, Sweden has made a big mistake. Anyone that argues that Sweden has done fine without any type of lockdown measures is very poorly informed or is trying to mislead people. The data is quite clear. Don’t be Sweden.

May 2 – Addendum. I had a request to plot these on a log scale. It also emphasizes the problem in Sweden.

I was also asked about case fatality rates.


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