The Herman Trend Alert
July 29, 2020
What's Really Happening in Sweden
I know you were expecting a different topic today, however, I received several notes from readers which led me to interrupt my regular train of writing to address my error.
First of all, unless you were over 70 or had underlying conditions, the Swedish experiment was not a failure. I received a number of responses from readers; this Herman Trend Alert sets the record straight.
A Spike in Infections
Between mid-March and mid-April, Sweden had a spike in infections. During that time, many people became infected and died. There is an ongoing discussion about whether they could have managed those first weeks better, but no consensus. However, since mid-April their numbers of infected and dead from COVID-19 have decreased substantially. During the entire time, the Swedish healthcare system has managed to have enough human and material resources to handle the situation, even though during some critical weeks, it has been at its limit.
Infection and Death is Now Way Down
The Swedes believe that for some months now, they have had the infection under "acceptable control." On a recent day, only 250 new people were reported infected, none of them seriously. During a recent 24-hour period, 7 people died; that number is representative of the deaths/day figures for the last couple of weeks. Moreover, on July 22nd, they had 333 cases and only 3 deaths.
Restrictions but No Mask Mandate
They do take COVID-19 very seriously and the government has placed many restrictions regarding physical distancing and gatherings. Interestingly, outside of healthcare settings, they do not force people to wear a mask outside; apparently, the same rules apply in other Nordic countries. Please finish reading this entire alert before you rip off your mask!
Who Died in Sweden
In Sweden, 90 percent of people who have died were 70 and older. And of those folks, 70 percent lived in homes for the elderly or had home-care. Most of the others had one or several underlying conditions. Also, quite a large percentage of the people who died were immigrants from Africa and the Middle East.
Hindsight will Help Us Understand
Once we are on the other side of the spikes happening in too many countries, including the US, it will be interesting to analyze facts, strategies, and actions. Right now, far too many statements and actions in different countries are political and not science-based.
Swedes on Vacation---as Usual
In the Northern Hemisphere, it is summer. Those who can are in happy retreat in summerhouses or enjoying their vacations elsewhere free from stress and concern. They report they are "doing just fine." Sadly, some are worried about how things will evolve after their summer vacations when they move into the autumn with its cooler weather.
What the Swedish Results Mean for Other Countries (Including the US)
Though many of us in the US have been misled about what is really happening in Sweden, it is important to note some important reasons why the Swedish approach may not work as well elsewhere. Though the country has a greater population than the other Scandinavian countries, Sweden's population is distributed with a low density overall. Plus, it has a higher share of single-person households than many other countries outside of the region. But the most important factors are health-related. By comparison to Western European countries and others with spiking case numbers, Sweden has a high life expectancy and low levels of chronic diseases. In fact, its rates of diabetes and obesity, underlying conditions that we know make the virus more lethal, Sweden's rate of diabetes is 25 percent lower than the US rate, and obesity which is up to 40 percent in the US is only 13 percent in Sweden.
I am Learning So Much!
This pandemic has helped me to see many things, including the fact that our views are the result of our media exposure and personal experiences. Though I have tried very hard to stay factual and scientific, I now know that I have not always been successful. Thank you for bearing with me. Recently one of my daughters really opened my eyes about schools staying closed. Next week, I intend to address both sides of that issue.
Special thanks to Bill Wiggenhorn, his friend Ralph Hagg, and my friend Anders Gustavsson for helping me to understand and write about what is really happening in Sweden.
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