Architect of Swedish Response to Covid-19 Explains and Defends Unique Policy

(via) Professor Johan Giesecke, one of the world’s top epidemiologists and an advisor to the Swedish Government, is refreshingly straight-forward about his country’s unique response to Covid-19 in this excellent interview with the UK’s Unherd.

Here are his core points, as summarised by Unherd:

– 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– The Imperial College paper was “not very good” and he has never seen an unpublished paper have so much policy impact

– The paper was very much too pessimistic

– Any such models are a dubious basis for public policy anyway

– The flattening of the curve is due to the most vulnerable dying first as much as the lockdown

– The results will eventually be similar for all countries

– Covid-19 is a “mild disease” and similar to the flu, and it was the novelty of the disease that scared people.

– The actual fatality rate of Covid-19 is the region of 0.1%

– At least 50% of the population of both the UK and Sweden will be shown to have already had the disease when mass antibody testing becomes available.

I’m not at all advocating for the Swedish model (ie. no societal lockdown, business closures, trusting citizens, etc.) but it is nevertheless fascinating to watch those for this approach explain and defend it.

There is 1 comment
  1. That video is about ten days old, and in those ten days many people have died in Sweden (with covid-19 attributed as the cause), particularly compared to their neighbors. The NYT site, which tends to lag more than some others, says they are at 22.3/1e5 residents – neither of the countries with which they share a land border has hit 4/1e5. And the gap has been growing in those ten days. While theirs isn’t close to the worst mortality rate in Europe, let’s guess that they aren’t the target of a great deal of regional envy.

    You say “here are his key points” but I’d cast that as “here are his key claims” – he’s not saying things that are clearly evident to domain experts, but rather things that are clearly controversial.

    I personally have trouble keeping my fangs covered with my lips when I hear people state that the difference between their approach and that of others is that theirs is evidence-based, with the clear implication that competing approaches are based upon – what? Wishful thinking? Baseless orthodoxy? Religious dogma? It’s a very arrogant, unhelpful thing to say.

    But it’s interesting to hear how they arrived at this very controversial stance – there are a lot of people looking at their numbers and drawing the conclusion that they blew it big time.

    BTW, I am not a domain expert.

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