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‘Herd Immunity’ Is a Failed Response to Coronavirus

Comparing Denmark versus Sweden on Coronavirus

Eric Zuesse

Denmark and Sweden are often compared regarding their handling of coronavirus-19 because the two Scandinavian countries are similar to one-another in many ways but took very different approaches to dealing with the coronavirus challenge. Whereas Sweden took a libertarian approach (meaning minimal regulations) and aimed to develop a ‘herd immunity’ to the disease, Denmark took the opposite path and imposed social-distancing measures, mask-wearing, and more.

As I reported regarding these two countries, in my April 22nd “Why Post-Coronavirus America Will Have Massive Poverty”,

Here, therefore, is the actual performance, thus far, of both of those two countries:

DENMARK = 1,329 [cases per million residents] peaked April 7th

SWEDEN = 1,517 peaked April 8th

Both of them are reasonably comparable to Germany, UK, Turkey, and Iran, but not as good as S. Korea, and not nearly as good as the two best, China and Japan.

On May 11th, I headlined “America’s Percentage of World’s Coronavirus Cases Is Now Declining”, and reported regarding Denmark and Sweden, that,

As of the start of the day on May 10th, those numbers are:

DENMARK = 1,782 (up 34%)

SWEDEN = 2,567 (up 69%)

Consequently, as more time passes, Denmark’s policy is considerably more effective at keeping down the number of cases than is Sweden’s.

Furthermore: whereas Sweden had tested only 14,704 persons per million (which is a very low percentage), Denmark had tested 53,345 per million (which is an extremely high percentage), and this fact likewise indicates that whereas Sweden, which has been reducing its socialism and increasing its libertarianism, is pursuing a remarkably libertarian approach to Covid-19, Denmark, which remains socialistic, is pursuing a remarkably socialist approach. And Denmark’s approach is increasingly better than Sweden’s in terms of keeping down the percentage of Covid-19 cases.

As regards the economies of those two countries: The unemployment rate in Denmark at the end of March 2020 was 4.1% and that was 170,000 unemployed; and as of May 5th there are 180,000 unemployed Danes; so, Denmark’s productivity hasn’t been much affected yet by Covid 19.

By contrast: Reuters headlined on April 14th, “Swedish unemployment rate could reach 10% by summer – Labour Board”, and reported that “Unemployment in Sweden could reach 10% in the coming months if the current wave of lay-offs due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus continues, the Labour Board said. … Unemployment was 7.4% in February, but many companies have since shut down and sent workers home due to supply chain problems and measures to prevent the spread of the virus.” On May 7th, the Wall Street Journal bannered “Sweden Has Avoided a Coronavirus Lockdown. Its Economy Is Hurting Anyway.”

Here was the story regarding the number of cases per million, as of June 17th:

DENMARK = 2,123 (up another 19%)

SWEDEN = 5,404 ( up another 111%)

And here it is as of June 28th:

DENMARK = 2,188 (up another 3%)

SWEDEN = 5,450 (up another 1%)

During that 11-day interim, Sweden was imposing basically the same measures that Denmark was. It worked.

Furthermore: whereas on April 22nd Denmark had a coronavirus death-rate of 64 per million residents, Sweden had a coronavirus death-rate of 175 per million residents; and those numbers on june 17th were: 103 in Denmark, and 499 in Sweden. Denmark’s rose 61% while Sweden’s rose 185%. So, also on death-rates, the two countries were increasingly far apart.

Whereas Denmark’s death-rate on June 28th is 104, Sweden’s is 523. Denmark’s rose from 103 to 104, and Sweden’s rose from 499 to 523.

Sweden’s unemployment rate rose from 6% in December 2019 to 9% in May 2020. Denmark’s was 3.7% till February 2020 and shot up to 5.4% by April 2020.

Sweden’s experiment with ‘herd immunity’ is over. That approach failed. It didn’t even produce better economic results. (Actually, the biggest economic impacts from Covid-19 will be the enormous per-patient healthcare costs, which are yet to be tabulated, but what they will mean is already clear: keeping the numbers of cases down will keep future healthcare costs down. The ‘herd immunity’ countries will suffer enormously higher healthcare costs.)

On June 15th, the German international polling firm Dalia Research reported its survey results from polling 124,000 respondents in 53 countries throughout the world, under the heading “People around the world judge their government’s COVID-19 response”, and they showed that Danes’ rating of their Government’s response was the 8th from the top, whereas Swedes’ ratings of theirs was 29th from the top. (China was rated the best at #1, and Brazil the worst at #53. America ranked #48. Most of the countries near the top took a socialistic approach to dealing with the coronavirus, and most of the countries near the bottom took a libertarian approach. However, the correlation between that ranking and ideology wasn’t nearly as strong as was ideology’s correlation with the internationally reported performance-data. For example, libertarian-run Peru was #40 but its numbers were actually far worse than that, because the libertarian population population distrusted the Government so much as to ignore the Government’s recommendations. So, Peru wasn’t just libertarian, it was chaotic, and its infection-numbers were terrible. Japan took a basically socialistic approach and its ratios on coronavirus are among the world’s best, but because the Japanese people had expected an even more socialistic approach, they thought their Government’s performance was lax and rated it at #49, which is one notch below that of the obviously failed, and quite libertarian, U.S.A. Similarly, Hong Kong, on June 17th, had had a total of only 1,121 coronavirus-19 cases and 4 deaths, compared to NYC’s 215,686 cases and 21,645 deaths, while Hong Kong’s population is 89% as large as is NYC’s; and, yet, because of Hong Kong’s anti-Government demonstrations and such, Hong Kongers rated their Government’s coronavirus-performance at #44 out of the 53. Probably NYC residents wouldn’t believe that their government is 192 times worse than Hong Kong’s on cases, and 5,411 times worse on deaths, and probably Hong Kong residents wouldn’t believe it either, but it’s true.)

Given the world’s coronavirus-19 experience, anyone who still remains a libertarian is simply beyond the reach of evidence, because the evidence against it is now overwhelming. The corpses are clear, about the matter.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Sally Snyder
Sally Snyder
June 29, 2020

Here is an article that looks at one aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic that gets very little coverage in the global mainstream media:

http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2020/06/measuring-covid-19-deaths-among-elderly.html

Rather than focussing on the raw numbers of COVID-infections and deaths, it would appear that the world’s media would be better serving the public need by pointing out the obvious flaws in the model of care that is provided to each nation’s oldest citizens.

Clarity
Clarity
Reply to  Sally Snyder
June 29, 2020

yes and no. Corona spreads more easily in crowded conditions. Worse if the crowded conditions are indoors. In Germany there was a recent outbreak in a meat packing plant, over 1000 new infections in a very short time. People working in crowded conditions and since most of them are foreign workers they also live in crowded temporary dorms. These situations are called super spreader events. People in long term care homes are most susceptible to such events.

The raw numbers cannot be overlooked. Excessive deaths are always a concern.

True.
True.
Reply to  Sally Snyder
June 30, 2020

“… the obvious flaws in the model of care that is provided to each nation’s oldest citizens …”

Holyoke Soldiers’ Home is a major Massachusetts nursing home for old U.S. veterans, located some 100 miles west of Boston. 

A snippet about the gruesome going-ons therein:

https://www.bostonherald.com/2020/06/24/excerpts-from-the-holyoke-soldiers-home-coronavirus-investigation/

P.S.
P.S.
Reply to  True.
June 30, 2020

(Holyoke Soldiers’ Home also doubles as a fully equipped hospital…)

Glocken-spiel
Glocken-spiel
June 29, 2020

Being made to wear a comically decorative and ineffective cotton diaper mask on your face is also a failed response. Being made to wear an N95 mask is also a failed response as the 3M instruction sheet in the package plainly states that an N95 mask “Does not aid in the prevention of disease.” Believing what any NATO government says about coronavirus case numbers and any deaths attributed to it is a failed response on an intellectual level.

Last edited 3 months ago by Glocken-spiel
Clarity
Clarity
Reply to  Glocken-spiel
June 29, 2020

Masks are not a failure. Do a simple at home experiment: take a T-shirt and a spray bottle and spray against the middle of the T-shirt and watch how much comes out the other side. Not much. Since the virus is mostly contained in droplets, most of these are stopped. By as much as 75%. Not perfect. But would you rather be in an environment with 25% of virus or 100%? Next is that the velocity is reduced, meaning that a sneeze or even regular breathing will not carry the virus as far. Masks will capture and dry out the… Read more »

Johann
Johann
Reply to  Clarity
June 30, 2020

Also note: all surgeons wear cloth masks during surgeries.

John Ellis
Reply to  Glocken-spiel
June 29, 2020

Now that you have destroyed your credibility by trying to turn absolute science into relative fiction, now that you claim that a 3M disclaimer to reduce law suits is some kind of credible proof, where is the logic in leaving yourself no room for an encore?

CalDre
CalDre
Reply to  John Ellis
July 4, 2020

It’s not to prevent lawsuits. The surgeons wear masks to prevent SPREADING infections to the patients, not to prevent BECOMING infected. Same is true with the idiotic COVID-19 masks. There is absolutely no evidence they help you prevent catching the virus (indeed the evidence suggests it makes you more likely to get it), or that it prevents anyone but symptomatic carriers (i.e., ones sneezing / coughing) from spreading it. I.e. there is no evidence whatsoever that wearing a mask helps prevent spread of the virus by the immune (who have already produced antibodies), those who never were infected, or asymptomatic… Read more »

Brewer
Brewer
June 29, 2020

Counting cases of a disease that is harmless to about 90% of sufferers is…….there is no other word for it……dumb.
It is easy to spin Sweden’s stats but it is streets ahead in terms of real and permanent recovery.

Clarity
Clarity
Reply to  Brewer
June 29, 2020

if it were street ahead it would not be changing course and admit that its course was a failure.

Brewer
Brewer
Reply to  Clarity
June 30, 2020

Sweden is not changing its course and the “admission” to which you refer was a beatup from Bloomberg. Anders Tegnell was asked, at the end of a long and positive interview, did he have any regrets and, like the honest fellow he is, replied yes and expressed regret that they had not handled their aged population as well as they might have.
Next day, headlines all over the World: “Sweden Regrets”.

John Ellis
Reply to  Brewer
June 29, 2020

Any nation that suffers a loss of 10% of it’s population because of the carona-virus, surely, they would be left bankrupt for at least the next 100 years.

Brewer
Brewer
Reply to  John Ellis
June 30, 2020

The RIF (Rate of infected fatalities) is between .1 and .2% – approximately equivalent to seasonal ‘flu. 80% of those are over the age of 80 and most have co-morbidity. By “harmful” I mean requiring medical attention.
Your deduction is inane.

CalDre
CalDre
Reply to  John Ellis
July 4, 2020

More utter unscientific, knowledge-less, fear-induced thinking. Sweden has had 5,400 deaths out of a population of 10 million, and the daily death numbers are heading straight to zero due to near achievement of herd immunity. How do you get at 10% when dividing 5,400 by 10 million? Is that COVID panicmania math? Try 0.05%! And US, despite it’s economic suicide, is not far behind (and death rate is still mostly flat): 132,000 deaths or 0.04%. And now going into second lock-down without any roadmap out of an endless cycle of tyranny and economic devastation. Try thinking. You have to do… Read more »

Clarity
Clarity
June 29, 2020

Sweden, much like France, decided to let the seniors in their care die, rather than treat them. That is certainly a factor in the death toll. This is real. In France, people over 80 would not receive treatment for corona. In Sweden, people in care homes would be limited to treatment at the care home and not taken to hospital. So much for compassion. Many people in Sweden have complained about losing their loved ones that way. Overall the record keeping is also questionable. In Sweden hardly anyone dies of corona on weekends… The other side of the failure is… Read more »

John Ellis
Reply to  Clarity
June 29, 2020

You are talking about only the poor in France and Sweden, for the upper-half of society in all the Western nations are filthy-filthy prosperous as they hoard all the hand, hoard all the wealth and make sure that the seniors in their family are pampered to the very end.

Clarity
Clarity
June 29, 2020

Eric have a look at these stats, they update every week

https://euromomo.eu/graphs-and-maps/

Last edited 3 months ago by Clarity
John Ellis
June 29, 2020

Herd immunity, the stupidity that a majority of others suffering and dying will save precious me, this is great for the rich with their mansions and yachts most isolating. But, for the 50% working-poor, out in the public doing all things manual, it is a genocide pure and simple. And so, for the 25% of society known as the middle-class, one would think that the herd immunity would be a big negative for them. But not so, for they love the rich, function as slave drivers for the rich and whatever the rich ruling class want done is the worship… Read more »

JayTe
June 30, 2020

Eric, Your article brings up some valid points based on the data but I think you are missing key aspects of Sweden’s strategy. Sweden’s strategy from the very beginning highlighted by Johan Giesecke in an interview that he did with Unherd on April 17th said the following (and I’m pinching this from Unherd’s site: UK policy on lockdown and other European countries are not evidence-based The correct policy is to protect the old and the frail only This will eventually lead to herd immunity as a “by-product” The initial UK response, before the “180 degree U-turn”, was better The Imperial… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by JayTe
Diana
Diana
June 30, 2020

Testing? What test is that? The one they appear to use, the RT-PCR only tests for genetic material so these figures are spurious. Anyway, the article only mentions people who may or may not have had the virus, most of whom felt lousy for a couple of days and then went back to normal life. The figures for deaths, which involved people taking a cocktail of drugs for various health problems and mostly having had flu vaccinations are quite different; most of them would have died shortly anyway. Anything to keep the story going as this flu virus is the… Read more »

Alfred E. Neumann
Alfred E. Neumann
June 30, 2020

What the world desperately needs is herd immunity to US foreign policy.

CalDre
CalDre
July 4, 2020

“Given the world’s coronavirus-19 experience, anyone who still remains a libertarian is simply beyond the reach of evidence, because the evidence against it is now overwhelming”. Utterly unscientific, myopic thinking. Why not compare Sweden to Italy? “They are similar countries” – lmao, what a clueless remark. New York and Delaware are much more similar but the results couldn’t be more different. And Sweden still does not have a lock-down, despite what the article dishonestly claims. Also it’s number of daily deaths has been steadily declining and is racing toward 0 – that’s right, they are on the verge of herd… Read more »

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