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Sweden's Virus Approach: Nature's Way or Looming Disaster?

Nordic country has taken a lax approach to social distancing, other restrictions
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2020 2:23 PM CDT

(Newser) – As COVID-19 cases rise and countries continue their efforts to keep numbers down, a Monday article in the National Review is circulating with a headline that's piqued interest: "Has Sweden Found the Right Solution to the Coronavirus?" The country has done "almost no mandated social distancing," per the analysis by John Fund and Joel Hay, other than closing secondary schools and colleges and banning gatherings of more than 50 people; other schools remain open, as do parks, restaurants and bars, and stores. Fund and Hay are in favor. They point out that, in a nation with more than 10 million people, there were only 400 COVID-19-related deaths as of Monday. In short, they think much of the world is overreacting. Coverage:

  • More from Fund and Hay: How the National Review writers think this should play out: Let the young and healthy mix and mingle to develop antibodies and herd immunity, while vulnerable people are isolated to avoid getting sick. "Nature's got this one, folks," they write. "We've been coping with new viruses for untold generations. ... As time passes, it will become clearer that [strict] social-isolation measures accomplish very little in terms of reducing fatalities or disease, though they crater local and national economies—increasing misery, pain, death, and disease from other causes as people's lives are upended and futures are destroyed."
  • Not so fast: Gabriel Leigh of Forbes, however, writes that Sweden's approach "is beginning to look like a mistake." As of Friday afternoon, the nation's death toll had jumped to nearly 900, per Johns Hopkins University. Plus, Leigh notes the country's death rate is climbing faster than some of its Nordic neighbors. ICU admissions are also increasing more quickly than they are in Finland and Norway.
  • A warning from WHO: The World Health Organization isn't keen on Sweden's tack, telling CNN on Wednesday it's "imperative" that the country "increase measures to control spread of the virus, prepare and increase capacity of the health system to cope, ensure physical distancing, and communicate the why and how of all measures to the population."

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