‘COVID-19 and the Failure of Swedish Exceptionalism’

John Gustavsson, writing for The Dispatch:

While Sweden’s death numbers compare favorably to the U.S., they stand in stark negative contrast to our Scandinavian neighbors who introduced lockdown measures: Per capita, we have nearly five times as many deaths as Denmark, nine times as many as Finland, and more than ten times as many as Norway. In total, as of this writing, 7,514 Swedes have lost their lives to Covid-19, which works out to a death rate of 742 per 1 million citizens. The equivalent numbers for the other Scandinavian countries are 164 per million (Denmark), 83 per million (Finland) and 72 per million (Norway). There is, in other words, no doubt that Sweden’s approach has led to excessive deaths.

Why did Sweden adopt this approach, and why was it not rapidly abandoned in April when it was clear that our neighbors were doing far better than we were?

While there are many reasons, I believe a significant part of the answer lies in Swedish exceptionalism. Whereas American exceptionalism is about America’s unique place in the world, Swedish exceptionalism is about being immune to any disasters that may happen in the rest of the world.

Wednesday, 16 December 2020