Last week, the person credited with Sweden’s Covid19 public strategy, Anders Tegnell admitted “There is quite obviously a potential for improvement in what we have done.”
With the wisdom of hindsight, it’s unlikely that anyone would have not have put the entire vulnerable population in 5 star hotels with room service, quarantined them, educated people about what was known/unknown about self-managing risk, and otherwise moved on with life.
This would have saved many lives and jobs, and would have cost vastly less than what we did.
Why we are not doing this now is less clear.
But little was known about Covid19 four months ago. We knew that it was highly infectious, lethal in ways not previously seen, and spread easily via droplets suspended in air. Had it spread and killed in the broader population in the same ways it does in a vulnerable population, the results would have been tragic on an Old Testament scale. Early worst case estimates of millions dead might have been low.
And so an expensive, all-hands on deck response was entirely reasonable.
We now know that danger to any one individual varies dramatically, and that a sorting into high/low risk groups is easy. The largest group, under 60 and in generally good health, are barely vulnerable at all, and that folks older than 60 with diabetes and/or heart disease are horrifyingly high-risk.
One unanswered question remains how effective are various mitigations?
Some welcome the failure of Swedish response as proof of something. It is not clear what we would have learned had Sweden had the same outcomes as Norway and Finland. Or how the puzzle is simpler now.
It’s difficult to know exactly what the state of the art in science-informed public policy re: Covid19, but it seems to be that the virus will naturally spread unchecked though the entire population linearly with time, that our policy has prevented this disaster so far, that it is the only thing preventing it from happening again, and will continue to happen until a vaccine or herd immunity saves us.
Given that we are only at 10-20% of people with antibodies, state of the art policy promises us heavy lockdowns for 3 decades, or finely tuned degrees of lockdowns, constantly changing, for 7 years.
If you somehow burned out wave 1, just one infected person will restart everything.
Why anyone would welcome such a scenario is unclear.
Fortunately, there are lots of reasons to doubt it. The much modelled wave of new death from some states partial reopening, 3-6 weeks, ago has yet to materialize.
All of the rules went out the window if you were with Antifa.
For reasons we don’t understand, at least in the first wave, the infection rates seems to top out at about 20% of the healthy, younger population.
At some level, even we didn’t believe it. About 60% of the economy continued to function. The government picked winners and losers, as we asked them to, but overall many things continued to operate. Why the virus cares if you are bowling or shopping was never made clear.
This thing was never serious enough to shut down dope stores.