Update on Covid and Sweden

This analysis from the Economist is one that I find very interesting. It doesn’t rely on the availability of testing. It focuses instead on estimating the excess deaths caused by Covid using a statistical approach.

It appears to support the view that herd immunity was approached or reached in Sweden and that Sweden’s results are favorable when compared to countries that shut down hard.

South Africa is also interesting.

funny, that’s not what it says.

You got all that from “Sweden was one of the few countries that did not enforce a lockdown at all. It has endured a lower death rate than Britain or Spain, but a higher one than neighbouring Norway or Denmark, which enacted more stringent policies”?

No, I got it from the graphic that I posted. Did you notice the light blue on the right hand side of the Sweden bar?

Those data indicate the excess deaths have gone to approximately zero despite the lack of a shutdown.

Of course, it is still early to tell.

Confounding factors anyone. Geez, I’m tired of people giving armchair epidemiology and statistical analyses.


We are all tired of something, or some things.

I think the lack of excess deaths in Sweden now is interesting.

And I am not new to data analysis, although my look at these data has not been deep.

It is possible we are much closer to herd immunity than some think, and we need to be watching for evidence one way or the other.

Sweden has had covid restrictions since 29 March. All public events with more than 50 people are banned, access to homes designed for older people are banned, universities and colleges were instructed to give distance education, etc.

Surrounding countries are opening but Sweden has been more conservative. For example, Finland allows events where people can be divided to groups of less than 500, Sweden has been critical to this and keeps the upper limit at 50 people.

Thre are several reasons why the death rates have declined in Sweden and the neighboring countries. Health care has learned how to treat covid patients. Therefore, a lower proportion of covid patients in hospitals die, compared to the situation in spring. Sweden has managed to prevent the spread of covid to homes of older people better than earlier. New cases are mainly found among younger people (<40 years) who seldom die because of a covid infection. Testing has increased, possible contacts are tracked and adviced or ordered to stay home.

As far as I know, Sweden is still very far from herd immunity.



I think the author of that study went WAYYYYYYY out of the way to try to make Sweden “look good”.

In reality, on a per capita basis (the number of residents, not the number of cases), Sweden has a dramatically higher death count.

If they do achieve herd immunity faster, it’s because they let more of the vulnerable risk exposure. The Swedes are a brave people - - but that doesn’t necessarily make them smarter in how to cope with a virus like Covid-19!

Only 8% of countries, Belgium, Spain, UK and Italy, have higher mortality rates than Sweden in Europe.

92% of European countries have lower mortality rates than Sweden.

I appreciate all the thoughtful comments.

It is possible that Sweden has had more deaths because more people have been exposed.

That is, the deaths have come earlier there rather than still yet to occur.

But time will shed more light on this.

As I note, the graphic in the opening post shows something different than what seems to be the common opinion.

It’s not just you. It’s just that people simultaneously cite Sweden as:

  • Evidence that lockdowns do nothing
  • Evidence that face masks do nothing
  • Evidence that they (or the whole world) is so close to herd immunity

But they ignore various other factors like:

  • The Swedes did many things like limit gathering size to 50 and close high schools and universities
  • They naturally social distance from each other culturally
  • The whole country took July off work like every year
  • Or any other confounding factors

It is better not to paint me with the brush you meant for others, as I am sure lockdowns and masks and limits on gatherings slow the spread of the disease.

And certainly the plan of keeping the spread below the capacity of the healthcare system is a goal that is difficult to fault.

As to when we reach herd immunity, we may be there in some places. We need to think about that, or we will keep society in protection mode too long.


What is the total combined number of deaths due to Covid of all the EU countries compared to US deaths to date?

I think that the evidence is showing that Covid spreads like a brush wildfire hitting a susceptible population spreading rapidly and then the virus spread rate reduces as it runs out of fuel. Even at a 10-20% infection rate the rate reduces greatly due to pre existing partial immunity as much as 40% years of population. This is why we saw this great reduction in New York infections after its terrible outbreak. However that is not to say that the virus will go away as there are many pockets of suceptible brush that haven’t been exposed but just spread rate will be greatly reduced especially with masks and distancing precautions and if people strengthen their immune defense with vitamin D K2 and zinc.

I agree.

Let’s talk about this a bit more…

I’m not sure what the latter part of your statement means but generally speaking, the more people that are infected, they get some kind of protection against reinfection.

There are many potential confounding factors. For example, a reduction of social connectivity, social distancing, blocking the virus via face masks and more can also reduce the effective reproductive rate of the virus. These types of measure can also lower the threshold for herd immunity, but if you remove them, then the threshold for herd immunity can go back up.

No comment here.

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This might help:

“Most bizarrely of all, when researchers tested blood samples taken years before the pandemic started, they found T cells which were specifically tailored to detect proteins on the surface of Covid-19. This suggests that some people already had a pre-existing degree of resistance against the virus before it ever infected a human. And it appears to be surprisingly prevalent: 40-60% of unexposed individuals had these cells.“

As of 01 September 2020, 181 782 have been reported in the EU/EEA out of 515,000,000

USA 184,000 out of 308,401,808

Even if T-cell immunity can prevent symptoms it may not stop infections which can be passed on to other people who may not have this immunity.


Maybe a useful reference from one of the authors of one of the T-cell papers:


Right. There is a huge difference between the two cases. If it prevents serious disease but still permits infection, then all this discovery would be telling us is why some people are asymptomatic; it would have no effect on herd immunity. On the other hand, if it prevents infection, then the number of people who would have to be infected to achieve herd immunity might be much lower than originally thought. But the reality is that we can observe situations in which 85% of a community become infected, so it seems quite unlikely that there is a large reservoir of genuinely immune people out there who haven’t ever been exposed to SARS-CoV-2.


“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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