Sweden could have prevented 40% of coronavirus deaths
Almost 40% of Sweden's Covid deaths could have been prevented with a swift lockdown, study finds
Sweden could have prevented almost 40 per cent of Covid-19 related deaths at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic had it imposed a prompt lockdown, according to a recent study.
Despite neighbouring countries making the decision to close hospitality venues, schools and non-essential shops, with some even issuing a 'stay at home' order, Sweden chose to take a less severe approach by only banning gatherings of more than 50 people.
Swedes were allowed to voluntarily work from home, however there was no 'stay at home' instruction, unlike in other countries in Western Europe, such as Germany.
During the first six months of the pandemic, almost 6,000 Swedish citizens died of coronavirus.
Sweden's death toll soon became one of the highest per capita death rates in Europe at the beginning of the pandemic.
In a study, three economists, Benjamin Born, Alexander M. Dietrich and Gernot J. Müller, have estimated that approximately 40% the 6,000 lives could have been prevented by implementing a swift lockdown.
The group, which was led by Macroeconomist Benjamin Born at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, focused on how rates of infection had changed in other western European countries, such as Germany, Norway and Denmark, once they had imposed restrictions.
The economists then used this data to model the death toll and number of infections Sweden would have incurred if the country was also in a lockdown. The group used countries with a population of over one million to model the data for Sweden.
According to the group's findings published in the journal PLOS One, if Sweden had entered a nine-week-long lockdown from 15 March until 17 May 2020, 38% of deaths could have been prevented and the country would have not suffered major economic consequences.
The group's estimations also showed that approximately 75 per cent of Sweden's coronavirus infections could have been prevented if the country had entered a lockdown in mid March 2020.
The authors of the study said: "While most countries imposed a lockdown in response to the first wave of COVID-19 infections, Sweden did not.
"To quantify the lockdown effect, we approximate a counterfactual lockdown scenario for Sweden through the outcome in a synthetic control unit. We find, first, that a 9-week lockdown in the first half of 2020 would have reduced infections and deaths by about 75% and 38%, respectively."
Speaking to Robert Peston on his show late-night show Peston, Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said that schools in Sweden remained open throughout the pandemic and that he believed it was a "wise choice", given the "mental health implications" that can arise from children not being in school.
When pressed on what he would have changed in the country's handling of the pandemic, Tegnell said: "I think in Sweden we're always coming back to the long-term care facilities.
"What happened in those was a great challenge...it was a great catastrophe that so many people who lived there died."