Sweden’s strategy was subjected to a global smear campaign, but now it’s showing results.
The liberal Guardian used to regularly hail Sweden as a ‘model for global prosperity’ – though one which ‘right-wingers’ were ‘desperate’ to see fail. But during the pandemic, the same paper denounced Sweden as a ‘model for the right’ and branded its Covid policy a ‘deadly folly’.
The world looked on in fascination and terror as Swedes were still allowed to go to bars and restaurants, schools remained open for everyone under 16 and gatherings were still permitted for up to 50 people. For Anders Tegnell, the man in charge of Sweden’s Covid policy, full-on lockdown was ‘using a hammer to kill a fly’.
As we enter the autumn, the UK, France, Spain and other European countries are currently panicking over rising Covid case numbers, and the contrast with Sweden’s situation is becoming harder to ignore. The Times tells us that ‘Sweden’s low positive test rate “vindicates [its] coronavirus strategy”’. The Sun points out that ‘lockdown-free Sweden’ has recorded its ‘lowest number of Covid cases since March’, as ‘other countries’ are hit by a ‘second wave’. And the Guardian acknowledges that Sweden was spared the ‘European surge as coronavirus infections stay low’.
Governments and health officials are paying attention, too (though clearly not enough). Sweden is now one of the few countries on the UK’s travel corridor, meaning that arrivals from Sweden no longer have to quarantine – unlike arrivals from Spain and France which applied stringent lockdowns. Johan Giesecke, a strident critic of lockdown who played a key role in advising the Swedish health authorities, was recently awarded a promotion at the World Health Organisation to advise on all things pandemic-related.
In Denmark, public-health experts have tried to distance themselves from the government’s lockdown policy. They claim that the Danish prime minister ‘abused healthcare advice’ when she said ‘the authorities’ recommended lockdown. This was taken by most of the public to mean the Danish Health Authority and the infectious-diseases agency. In fact, the Danish Health Authority had recommended very few of the draconian measures that were eventually implemented.
The Swedophobes also delighted in tales of Sweden’s economic woes. ‘They literally gained nothing’, gloated one expert in the New York Times: ‘It’s a self-inflicted wound, and they have no economic gains.’ At the time, Sweden’s economy was faring almost as badly as everywhere else in Europe. But it has since become clear it was hit much less hard than other major countries. In August, the Swedish government pulled off the astonishing feat of generating a budget surplus.
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