Sweden’s approach to coronavirus has been nothing short of controversial, and has been
deemed as an extreme strategy by many. The country has adopted the no lockdown approach, and despite
being a little too early to draw all of the conclusions, there are some important takeaways that
should be noted. The no-lockdown strategy has allowed Sweden’s economic data to remain
strong. The decision has to be put into perspective. Reality is Swedes don’t socialize as much
as other european countries. Compared with mediterranean countries like Spain or Greece they
engage in less social activities.
Sweden is the third largest country in Europe, with a population of just over 10 million. It stands
as one of the european countries with lower population density, on average there are 22
swedes per square kilometer. This is one of the reasons the virus did not spread as fiercely as
in other countries. If we compare Sweden with european countries, with a similar number of
inhabitants we can easily conclude that the low population density is the key reason behind
Swedish strategy. Portugal, Greece, and Czech Republic have just over 10 million people, but
their population density is much higher than Sweden, at 112, 82, and 135 respectively.
This has led to the different style adopted to fight the pandemic. In theory countries with a
higher population density tend to have a higher number of Covid-19 cases, since people tend to
be closer to each other and interact more often. Another striking thing about Swedish approach
is the lack of mandatory facemask use. When one uses a facemask in Sweden people will often
think that you are either infected, or that you came from another planet and parked your
spaceship close by. There is more data to back up the strategy adopted and why it has worked
Reality is that Swedish households are completely different from other european countries. The
average swedish household has 1.8 individuals, compared with an EU average of 2.3. Half of
swedes live alone. Sweden is the european country where the number of individuals per
household is the lowest. Authorities can expect lower rates of infection, given the fact that the
majority of swedish households is made up of single people. This compared with other countries
with higher numbers of individuals per household, since multiple generations live together, gives
Sweden a big advantage, when trying to stop the virus from spreading.
The fact that most people do not wear facemasks has allowed most swedish to build up an
immune system against corona. While at the same time allowing the country’s economy to be
less affected than their european counterparts.
Analyzing the second quarter economic data from all the european countries we can see that
Sweden despite having a decrease in its GDP and experiencing a rise in unemployment, it has
managed to do far better than most of its european counterparts.
It is clear that Sweden was one of the least affected countries in Europe. The no-lockdown
allowed businesses to keep operating, and kept people working which improved the economic
data. Recently with the winter around the corner and the flu season affecting the general
population. Sweden has taken a new set of stricter rules. The herd immunity was not completely
achieved but in general the country presents lower cases than the average european country.
The number of overall infections is still lower than comparable countries with similar population
numbers. The recent 14 day report shows that in comparison with other european countries,
despite the no-lockdown and no-facemask approach the number of cases remains low.
Behind the numbers there is a story, and in this story Sweden’s approach was not as bad as
some would expect in the beginning of the pandemic. And that is in part explained by the
different social dynamics in Sweden being completely different than other european countries.
Given the special characteristics of its population, swedish authorities have tried to design the
most successful strategy. When comparing the different approaches some countries had
regarding the pandemic, it is essential to understand the specific characteristics of its
This is what Swedish authorities have done, they realized their population was well
distributed throughout the country, and that most households were people living alone. By
understanding this data thoroughly they decided the no-lockdown approach, was the one that
suited Sweden better. Despite the recent rise in cases, the country has been able to manage
the virus spread and the economic effects of the pandemic. In a much more efficient way than
most of its european peers. We shall see going forward if the strategy will last, or stricter rules
need to be applied to stop the virus spreading once and for all.
Will Swedens strategy be the best in the long run? No one knows in this stage BUT one thing is for sure that to go sale shopping (like Stockholm on Black Friday) in the middle of an pandemic will not work.
We MUST work together in this, stay safe!
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