Sweden copped an awful lot of flak for deciding not to place its population under full house arrest as Covid swept the world.
Yet the country’s excess death rate has proved to be one of the lowest in Europe, at 56 deaths per 100,000, according to fresh data from the World Health Organisation.
The WHO report estimates that excess deaths due to Covid have reached 14.9 million worldwide, three times higher than officially reported. It also reveals that the UK had a lower excess death rate than other European countries, with 109 deaths per 100,000. This compares to 111 in Spain, 116 in Germany, and 133 in Italy.
Sweden’s inquiry into the handling of the pandemic concluded that, while mistakes had been made, a full lockdown had not been necessary, and that relying on citizens making their own decisions around social distancing and working from home had been the right call.
Bars and restaurants were able to remain open, allowing Swedes to retain “more of their personal freedom than in many other countries.”
The WHO’s findings suggest that strict lockdowns alone did not determine numbers of Covid deaths. Various factors will have been at play. Sweden’s low death rate could be down to low levels of obesity, for instance. But the latest data reinforces the idea that the wisdom of lockdown shouldn’t have been taken for granted.
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