One has to wonder if parts of Europe are a harbinger of what is to come for the United States in the COVID-19 pandemic. If it is, what is coming out of the Nordic countries is all good news. Revised testing guidelines, slower rates of infection and expedited opening are all indicated in the experience in Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland might be better than expected. It won’t make the “lockdown until November, we need 5 million tests a day” crowd happy at all.
Sweden has chosen a different path to public health from the beginning of the pandemic. Seeking to protect their hospital system and increase immunity in the population, they put light recommendations in place and allowed shops and primary schools to stay open.
Despite the hands-off, high-trust approach, Sweden falls in about the middle of the pack for deaths per million in Europe. Yet their disease penetration in Stockholm, a metro area of about 2.6 million people, is only 7.3% as of the end of April according to antibody testing.
This is far below expectations given the original R0, or measure of how contagious a virus is. Original estimates said this rate could be as high as one infected person infecting 5-6 others on average. Sweden’s approach suggests this might be much lower, which would be good news. – READ MORE