Corona is two things: exhausting and not easy to get rid of. On the one hand, it’s very understandable why people don’t want to hear any more about it. On the other hand, you should never ignore symptoms of any disease and keep pretending as if nothing had happened.
Two crucial months
On April 1st I published a short video (with English subtitles) talking about possible explanations as to why Sweden’s Covid approach appears so different compared to the rest of Europe. One argument was that governmental “recommendations” suffice in Sweden to accomplish something that might require stronger legislation, lock-downs or bans in other cultures. It is true, many Swedish cities and shops were as empty as elsewhere during April or most of May. Another argument was that Swedish culture is a little more “socially distanced” anyway – compared to southern Europe for instance. But: this would surely change as soon as summer arrives and chases away the nordic coolness. And after all, summer was coming.
During the past two months, a lot was learned and observed about Sars-Cov-2. For example,
- other than in most European countries, the number of daily new infections in Sweden did not follow a curve, but resembles sea waves. From April 1 to May 31, it fluctuated continuously between 234 and 812 with an average of 543 new daily cases (i.e. 54 per million of the population, Germany was in the same period at an average about 22 people per million.).
- To date, almost 4,900 people in Sweden have died of Covid-19, which means that we currently hold 5th place on the worldwide death list (473 deaths per million population, after Belgium , UK , Spain , and Italy ).
- In the meantime, we also learn that infected people with mild symptoms do not seem to form antibodies, so the effort of getting herd immunity does not really work as expected.
- Also, the world has developed many vivid examples to study what happens when a country takes rigorous measures (e.g. Finland, Norway, Denmark, Germany or New Zealand – all ruled by women, by the way), or when it reacted too late or not at all (e.g. Italy, Great Britain, USA or Brazil).
And it was summer …
As expected, sunlight always lures all Northlings out of their homes – as magically as beguiling sirens entice sailors. Neither parsley nor recommendations work as protection. We in the North have to be chained up, just like Odysseus was back then.
So again, as expected, the number of 543 daily new infections during April-May increased abruptly to 1019 as soon as June arrived (daily average June 1-12). This is an increase of 88% from 54 to 102 people per million every day. While the numbers in the rest of Europe are falling despite increasing measurements, in Sweden they are shooting through the roof. For comparison: From June 1 to June 12, 4 people per million were infected in Germany every day, even in the USA there were only 65. What now, Sweden?
However, in the media we learn mostly about decreasing deaths rates, reopening colleges and universities as of June 15th, and free travel within the country. Sounds like everything is just fine. Hardly a word about rising corona cases. Instead, it seems like Sweden is even a little annoyed that we’re are not as welcome anymore in Europe – especially as many other Europeans will soon be allowed to travel again. Norway and Finland, for example, won’t let in Swedish tourists for the time being.
The health agency’s statements remain as cryptic and opaque as ever during Corona. The majority of the people including media do not seem to question their work. I really start to wonder whether they can’t see more than the sand they chose to stick their head in.
Of course I understand the craving for light and summer. As an often winter-depressed human being myself I totally get it. But still, mistakes are there to learn from them. If Sweden does not want to end up in the same pot as Boris Johnson, Donald Trump or Jaire Bolsonaro when dealing with Corona, we should do it like our surrounding neighbors and soon put a woman in the lead.