Sweden And Denmark Took Very Different Approaches To Fighting The Coronavirus. The Data Shows Many More People Are Dying In Sweden.

Sweden has seen a 34.5% increase in excess deaths this month compared to a 6.5% rise in Denmark.

Sweden and Denmark both had relatively mild flu seasons this winter, with fewer people dying compared to recent years. Then COVID-19 struck, and the neighbouring countries adopted very different strategies.

While the Danes were among the first in Europe to go into lockdown, Sweden opted for the herd immunity approach, making it one of the few advanced economies in the world to do so. There was no strict lockdown, and social distancing was recommended but not dictated.

A visiting ban at care homes was introduced at the beginning of April to protect the elderly, gatherings of more than 50 people were prohibited, and universities and colleges were recommended to offer remote learning.

But otherwise, life carries on essentially unchanged: Most schools, restaurants, bars, clubs, and gyms are open, and people are practising social distancing.

A lot has been said and written about Sweden’s strategy. Its outlier status has been met with horror by some, curiosity by most, and applause by those pressing their own governments to lift restrictions that are having a destructive effect on economies and societies. With the leaders of the UK, the US, and other countries under increasing pressure to scale back their lockdowns, the question of whether Sweden’s approach is working is of international concern.

In the 21 days before April 19, 7,169 people died — 1,843 more people compared to the average number of deaths during the same weeks between 2015 and 2019. That’s the equivalent of a 34.5% increase.

And on Monday, the Swedish statistics office said the number of deaths recorded in the week ending April 12 was the highest this century, surpassing a milestone set in the first week of 2000 when 2,364 people died. Three of the four weeks with the highest death tolls in the past two decades have occurred this month.

A bridge away in Denmark, the numbers tell a very different story. Statistics Denmark recorded 201 extra deaths over the same three weeks compared to a five-year average, an uptick of 6.5%. The contrast with the recent past is minimal. Even taking into account population size — Sweden is home to 10.3 million people, Denmark to 5.8 million — the gulf between the two countries appears stark.

The full extent of the impact of COVID-19 will not be clear for many months, maybe even years — but for now, the two Nordic countries are on different paths, not only in how they are fighting the coronavirus but also on the results so far.

Denmark’s approach has been much stricter than that of its neighbour. It announced the closure of schools, gyms, restaurants, caf├ęs, and borders on March 11, as well as a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people. The country started easing restrictions on April 15, reopening schools as a first step.

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from buzzfeed