Wrong! Many have touted Sweden for not imposing a strict lockdown at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe. But this led to a higher death rate compared to other Nordic countries, and little economic benefits.

The Financial Times wrote back in 2020 that economics had predicted that Sweden would have a similar contraction rate to its GDP as the rest. The Swedish central bank predicted that GDP would contract by 7 to 10 per cent and unemployment would increase to 9 to 10.4 per cent. Data from Eurostat (accessed in 2021), shows that Sweden contracted at a much more modest real GDP growth rate of -2.8%. By comparison, Malta suffered a much worse -7.8% contraction due to our dependency on tourism, but similar countries either did just as badly, like Finland (-2.9%), or better, like Norway (-0.8%).

Norway had a much stricter lockdown and suffered just 799 deaths, compared to Sweden’s 14,615 deaths. Norway has half the population of Sweden but nearly 20 times fewer deaths. The two countries have similar cultures, ways of living, socialising, health systems, and so on.

Sweden took a chance with attempts at herd immunity, trusting its population to maintain safe distan­cing without needing stiff lockdowns and other measures. Sadly, they didn’t work. Sweden is not a role model of how to handle the COVID-19 pandemic.

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