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Sweden ripped the metaphorical band-aid off quickly and got the epidemic over and done with in a short amount of time, while the rest of the world has chosen to try to peel the band-aid off slowly. At present that means Sweden has one of the highest total death rates in the world. But covid is over in Sweden. People have gone back to their normal lives and barely anyone is getting infected any more. I am willing to bet that the countries that have shut down completely will see rates spike when they open up. If that is the case, then there won’t have been any point in shutting down in the first place, because all those countries are going to end up with the same number of dead at the end of the day anyway. Shutting down completely in order to decrease the total number of deaths only makes sense if you are willing to stay shut down until a vaccine is available. That could take years. No country is willing to wait that long.
Covid has at present killed less than 6000 in Sweden. It is very unlikely that the number of dead will go above 7,000. An average influenza year in Sweden, 700 people die of influenza. Does that mean covid is ten times worse than influenza? No, because influenza has been around for centuries while covid is completely new. In an average influenza year most people already have some level of immunity because they’ve been infected with a similar strain previously, or because they’re vaccinated. So it is quite possible, in fact likely, that the case fatality rate for covid is the same as for influenza, or only slightly higher, and the entire difference we have seen is due to the complete lack of any immunity in the population at the start of this pandemic.
This conclusion makes sense of the Swedish fatality numbers – if we’ve reached a point where there is hardly any active infection going on any more in Sweden in spite of the fact that there is barely any social distancing happening then that means at least 50% of the population has been infected already and have developed immunity, which is five million people. This number is perfectly reasonable if we assume a reproductive number for the virus of two: If each person infects two new, with a five day period between being infected and infecting others, and you start out with just one infected person in the country, then you will reach a point where several million are infected in just four months. If only 6000 are dead out of five million infected, that works out to a case fatality rate of 0.12 percent, roughly the same as regular old influenza, which no-one is the least bit frightened of, and which we don’t shut down our societies for.
Thanks, Matt. Excellent find!
Georgia should catch up by the end of the year. About the same population. More blacks obviously in Georgia. But Sweden has more elderly. Median age in Georgia is 36.2. Sweden it's 41.2. Sweden has 20% of their population 65 and older. Georgia it's 10.1%. Should be some interesting statistics in January.