sweden and covid

some simple data on overall outcomes and overall risks

sweden did very little to try to stop covid. they did not lock down, they did not wear masks, they closed few businesses, they left most schools open, undistanced, in person, and unmaksed.

many have endlessly screamed that “well look at the covid deaths! it was a disaster!” but here’s the thing: it wasn’t.

sweden has one of the most aggressive covid counting methodologies in the world. they tested a lot and then called any death for any reason within 30 days of a positive covid test a covid death.

get sick, recover, get hit by a bus? covid death

test positive, have no symptoms, die of a drug overdose? covid death.

die of cancer in hospital, test positive for trace covid? covid death.

you get the picture.

this definitional issue has made it very hard to compare to other places.

but even with this huge definitional issue, they outperformed the US, especially since last summer.

but they did not beat denmark, norway, or finland, which look like clear comparisons to make (well, apart from the fact that they count covid deaths totally differently and test at very different rates) but that’s what we have: apples and oranges data and no good way to normalize it.

thus, i think that US comparison and the nordics comparison are both too messy to really make. but there is one thing everyone counts the same way: all cause deaths.

you died or you didn’t. it’s one of the most clearly delineated outcomes in humanity. it’s also a great overall measure of overall strategic outcomes because it encompasses ALL trade offs around mortality.

you could, if you were sufficiently jonestown, cut covid deaths dramatically by making all the high risk drink poison kool aid. it would drop reported covid deaths dramatically. but it would still appear in all cause deaths (ACD). this would reveal the absurdity of the data manipulation.

so, if lockdowns save lives, we’ll see it in ACD. if they cause deaths from despair or covid or whatever, we’ll see that too. the reaper is a great netter out of all things.

so what does sweden look like?

it looks like this.

(note that this is a slight modification of the CDC flu year standard commencing in october each year. they use it because flu peaks in dec/jan and splitting it and thus dividing particular flu seasons makes the data far less readable or relevant to specific disease vectors/vintages. you can do the same thing using aug-july and thereby make this year so far comparable to others on a full year basis.)

well huh. even last year was bang on normal, despite following a low year in a system that shows mean reversion tendencies because more old people surviving last year means more vulnerable at risk this year.

2019/20 was indistinguishable from the 5 prior years before 2018/19 (which was the lowest year in swedish history) had this never been named, would anyone have even noticed a year like that?

seems questionable. “had a normal all cause deaths year” seems like the literal optimal outcome during a pandemic. there’s just really not much more to say.

but how can this be with so many purported “covid deaths?” there’s actually an interesting answer there: there were not really that many deaths from covid. they were deaths “with covid” and they took place among those at high risk of death anyway.

happening to have a contagious opportunistic infection when you die is not the same as people being killed in droves by it.

and the DATA gives us some strong intuitions here.

this gets trotted out to argue “look, deaths per day were the same so there was no herd immunity!” but this is not a good claim. overall mortality as seen in all cause deaths is not up. it’s down yoy. and it was not even elevated last year. the key to this apparent riddle lies in the age data. almost no young people died. if you have an aerosolized opportunistic infection and count everyone who gets even a whiff of it before or at death and count them as a covid death, all this is really measuring is the normal seasonal death pattern crashing into covid seasonality as measured by over sensitive PCR tests. more expression of endemic trace plots just this curve. at worst, we’re seeing deaths accelerated by days and weeks, not years.

look who died:

to make this easier to read, here’s a table i made from same data:

~26% of deaths were over 90. ~67% were over 80 and 89% were over 70. less than 1% were under 50.

this is what you get for using very sensitive tests and very inclusive definitions. you find a lot of trace and define a lot of deaths into populations that were going to die anyway.

if normal all cause deaths from mostly normal life and all deaths in the very old is not a pandemic win, i’m honestly curious, what would a win look like?

because it looks to me like sweden was a country to emulate, not to disparage. of interest, the other nordics had mild lockdowns and little masking as well and, because people ask and it seems fair to look, sweden outperformed denmark, the most locked down and masked of the nordics and was basically indistinguishable from finland.

data from longtime gatopal @haroldofworld who has done so much good work here. (though i do wish he’d use flu years and not calendar)

only norway did a bit better and given their penchant for oily fish and the many links on vitamin D deficiency and covid, one wonders if the whole of this region perhaps looked a lot better than many others because they got more D. or perhaps because they have less obesity. something set them apart and it was not lock down, mask up, or vax-vax-vax.

the US sure did not look like this. US deaths were vastly elevated vs prior years.

some claim this chart shows that covid is undercounted, but i suspect the opposite. i think it’s likely overcounted because of the use of death with vs death from definitions. the fact that ACD was 24% above normal in the US and that it spread far younger than the nordics is likely because lockdowns and societal panic kill. suicides and drug OD’s were up, deaths of despair and dementia soared, and people missed health appointments for treatable conditions and cancers and who knows what else.

even if we take this covid death count at face value, it was augmented by another ~33% by something else. diabetic deaths exploded, up 14% year on year. that’s gain of weight and lack of care.

this seems a searing indictment of the US response. it killed people who did not need to die AND it failed to mitigate covid.

there is also likely a similarly searing indictment of the focus of US health policy here.

lock down, mask up, and get the jab and nothing else is the policy of the morgue team that comes to mop up the blood, not the crime prevention unit.

prevention lies in health and health is more effective than even the overstated original vaccine claims for efficacy in preventing clinical covid.

having no comorbidities such as obesity and type 2 diabetes and uncontrolled hypertension is a 93% risk reducer. it’s 99% in those over 85. (lots of data HERE)

so why is US health policy all about treating illness by selling drugs to those who are sick? why is it not about keeping them healthy? the real health crisis in the US is obesity and it’s affecting everything. it and its knock on effects consume easily half of US healthcare spending once you add diabetes together with the direct costs. yet we do nothing.

we cancel sports and close gyms in fruitless LARPing to try to stop covid. we make people so miserable and unable to function that we get 100’s of thousands of extra deaths from lockdowns. and we pack weight on them as they binge eat and drink and watch netflix for a year.

estimates state that every point of BMI over 30 adds $253 a year to your health costs.

so here’s some data that looks pretty grim:

“In fact, a new American Psychological Association (APA) survey of more than 3,000 people reveals that 61 percent of U.S. adults report undesired weight changes since the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), before the pandemic, about 40 percentTrusted Source of people had obesity in the United States.

According to the new APA survey, 2 in 5 of the 3,000 adults surveyed gained more weight than they intended over the last year, at an average of 29 pounds per person. Ten percent said they gained more than 50 pounds.”

at 5’'11”, 215 lbs is 30 BMI. add 29 pounds, it’s 34 BMI. welcome to an extra $1000+ in annual costs. per person. in 2 out of 5 surveyed. and who knows what the high end added and how many were far greater. 10% reported 50 pounds + of gain.

guys, this is the terrifying emerging health crisis and it’s time we got after it.

nutrition, body composition, and cardiovascular fitness trump medicine for disease prevention. it’s not just covid. it’s everything.

focusing health policy on cleaning up after bad health choices is not promoting public health, it’s enabling illness.

start thinking about this properly. the life you improve may be your own.

(and for those asking, yes, the little fox colored cat in many pix is the real el gato malo).

disclaimer for those seeking to take my advice (or life in general) too seriously:

after a workout, i sometimes sleep in the sink.