Last year Republicans held up Sweden's state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, as a paragon of common sense. They aren't crowing about Tegnell's approach any longer now that people in his country are dying at a much greater rate than in neighboring countries that implemented lockdowns.
Sweden has recorded more COVID-19 cases per capita than most countries so far: Since the start of the pandemic, roughly 11 out of every 100 people in Sweden have been diagnosed with COVID-19, compared with 9.4 out of every 100 in the UK and 7.4 per 100 in Italy. Sweden has also recorded around 145 COVID-19 deaths for every 100,000 people — around three times more than Denmark, eight times more than Finland, and nearly 10 times more than Norway.
Had Sweden implemented tighter rules, experts told Insider, the country might have seen a COVID-19 death toll more similar to those Nordic neighbors.
"They underestimated the mortality tremendously," Claudia Hanson, an associate professor at Sweden's Karolinska Institute, told Insider.
And unfortunately for people who think the economy is more important than human lives, Sweden's economy suffered as much or worse than other nearby countries:
Sweden's economy still shrank 8.6% from April to June of last year — its largest quarterly fall in at least 40 years. By comparison, Denmark's economy shrank 7.4% during that time, Norway's 5.1%, and Finland's just 3.2%. (None of these economies shrank by more than 4% over the course of 2020, though.)
Photo by Mark Frauenfelder