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Another major red flag about Covid vaccines and death

By Alex Berenson | Unreported Truths | November 18, 2021

People appear to die at rates 20 percent or more above normal for weeks after receiving their second Covid vaccine dose, according to data from a huge Swedish study.

The figures are buried in a preprint paper on vaccine effectiveness released last month. The headline finding of the paper was that protection against Covid, including severe cases, plunged after six months.

The researchers did not explicitly examine deaths from all causes – which have risen since the summer in many countries that have highly vaccinated populations.

But on page 32 of the 34-page report, a chart shows that 3,939 of 4.03 million Swedes who received the second dose died less than two weeks later.

(SOURCE: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3949410)

Over a one-year period, that rate of death would translate into an annual mortality rate of about 2.5 percent a year – 1 person in 40 – almost three times the overall Swedish average. In a typical year, about 1 in 115 Swedes dies.

Of course, that huge gap does not account for an important confounding factor: younger people, who have a much lower risk of death, were less likely to be vaccinated.

But Sweden also provides detailed data on overall deaths nationally, making a crude baseline comparison possible.

That data shows that from an average of about 1,650 Swedes died every week between 2015 and 2019 between April 1 and early August, the period in which almost all of those 4 million Swedes in the study received their second dose. Death rates hardly varied over those years.

(SOURCE: https://www.scb.se/en/finding-statistics/statistics-by-subject-area/population/population-composition/population-statistics/)

In other words, during the spring and summer, Sweden normally has about 3,300 deaths every two weeks – not just in the people who received vaccines, but in all 10.6 million of its people.

So let’s make an incredibly conservative assumption, one that strongly favors the vaccines. (The next couple paragraphs are a bit tricky, but I hope the payoff is worth taking the time to read and think through them.)

Assume that the group of people who received vaccines were so much older and unhealthier than those who didn’t that they would have accounted for every single death in Sweden whether or not they were vaccinated. In other words, assume that even if the vaccines did not exist, every person in Sweden who died would have been part of that group of 4.03 million people the researchers tracked – while not one other person would have died.

In that case, those 4.03 million people “should” have about 3,300 deaths every two weeks. They CANNOT HAVE MORE – because all of Sweden does not have more.

But the vaccines do exist. Those 4.03 million people received them. And in the two weeks after receiving the second vaccine dose, as a group, the researchers reported they had not about 3,300 deaths, but 3,939.

And 3,939 deaths is about 20 percent more deaths than “should” have occurred in those two post-vaccine weeks. Again, the 20 percent figure understates the real gap, because in the real world some deaths will occur in the 6.6 million unvaccinated people too, so the actual baseline number for the vaccinated group is not 3,300 deaths but somewhat lower.

Unfortunately, the researchers did not report any details on the deaths, so it is impossible to know if they are disproportionately cardiovascular. It is also impossible to know whether one particular vaccine was disproportionately linked to deaths. (Sweden used mostly the Pfizer mRNA vaccine, as well as some of AstraZeneca’s DNA/AAV vaccine, which is not available in the United States, and a small amount of Moderna’s mRNA vaccine.)

Of course, it is just possible the extra deaths are due to chance. Or that the handful of elderly Swedes who received vaccines in February and March accounted for a hugely disproportionate number of the post-vaccine deaths. (Because per-week Swedish death rates are higher in the winter, a large number of post-vaccine deaths in those months would somewhat reduce the strength of the signal, though it would still exist.)

But the caveats aside, the Swedish figures offer a very large real-world dataset apparently showing a notable increase in all-cause mortality directly following Covid vaccination.

They are yet another piece of evidence in an increasingly worrying picture – alongside case and anecdotal reports, a known link to heart inflammation in young men, the updated Pfizer clinical trial data revealing a numerical imbalance in deaths in vaccinated people, and most importantly the general rise in all-cause mortality in many countries.

And all of these red flags come for vaccines that – if the Swedish data are correct – may actually raise the risk of Covid infection after about eight months.

Yes, RAISE. See how that black line drops below the zero level on the top chart? That represents negative effectiveness, which is another way to say people who are vaccinated are MORE likely to be infected than those who aren’t.

And, as the second chart shows, effectiveness against severe Covid infection is also spiraling towards zero.

Yet the Biden Administration and governments across Europe continue to try to force more people to take these vaccines.

Why?

November 22, 2021 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Sweden’s “Vaccine Passes” should teach us an important lesson.

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | November 18, 2021

The Swedish Public Health Agency (PHA) has announced that, starting next month, gatherings of more than 100 people will require “Covid passes” showing vaccination status.

Unlike similar schemes in other countries, a negative test will not be accepted as a substitute – either you’re vaccinated, or you can’t enter the venue.

There’s no talk yet of including restaurants, bars or cafes in this… but it is still early.

The PHA published a press release yesterday, detailing the plans. Quoted in The Local, Sweden’s culture minister Amanda Lind said:

Being able to use vaccination certificates is something the government has been preparing for a long time. You have previously heard me talk about vaccination certificates as a “plan B”. Now that situation is here,”

The vaccination pass comes on the heels of announcing the re-introduction of other “anti-COVID” measures, including limitations on mass indoor gatherings. The pass is being described as a way to get around these restrictions by “guaranteeing that participants are vaccinated”.

… and so Sweden falls.

From the beginning of the “pandemic” Sweden has been almost an outlier. Their refusal to lockdown was held up as an example of irresponsible laissez-faire libertarianism in the mainstream press, but made it an important touchstone for lockdown sceptics who viewed it as a bastion of common sense.

It turns out neither is true.

While Germany, Austria, New Zealand, Canada (and others) have gone full fascist brutally suddenly, Sweden is taking the scenic route. Rather than refusing to comply with the narrative, Sweden is simply using a looser net to catch the stragglers.

Those championing Sweden’s approach to Covid have just been caught in a supranational game of “good cop, bad cop”.

It shouldn’t really come as a surprise, the warning signs were all there.

For starters, the sheer amount of coverage given to the “Swedish approach” should have tipped people off.

Let’s take a moment to remind ourselves that the countries that have really rejected the Covid narrative in its entirety – such as Belarus – are never in the news.

In fact the governments that genuinely refused to play ball all had colour revolutions (or attempted ones at least), or saw their presidents die of sudden heart attacks.

Sweden suffered no such bad luck. Because it was playing its part.

For over a year and a half, Sweden has been portrayed as the calm voice in a room of panicking hysterics. They ‘refused’ to lockdown, and their “covid deaths” never reached the disastrous predictions of the modellers, whilst their economy suffered markedly less than the rest of Europe.

Playing that level-headed role has bought them credibility in Lockdown-sceptic circles, which can now be parlayed into an argument for vaccine passes: “Oh you hate vaccine passports? Well you love Sweden and they have them there!”

It’s all about manipulation – getting the doubters to concede to your narratives bit by bit without realizing they are doing so.

By supporting Sweden’s no lockdown approach, because it seems relatively sane, you concede, without fully realizing it, that there is a pandemic, and it does require some kind of intervention.

The same can be said for the “alternate therapies” and “pre-existing immunity” arguments.

Although both seem to have scientific evidence supporting them, the argument is built on a priori assumptions which concede the basic reality of the pandemic narrative.

And you will never win if you play by those rules. This is their pandemic and they can reinvent it in any way they choose.

Think promoting ivermectin is a good way of opposing the vaxx without alienating the believers? No!

You have to follow rules. They don’t. They can just invent a new “variant” out of wholecloth. One that is “resistant to ivermectin”.

And then what do you do?

It’s a simple and important lesson, hopefully, forced home by now:

Don’t part-accept irrationality in an effort to be reasonable. Don’t try and meet insanity in the middle. Deal only in what you can research and observe yourself.

Don’t attempt to compromise with the establishment, because they will never compromise back. There is no middle way.

Never, EVER, accept part of their narrative on trust.

Sweden should teach us never to pick sides in the Covid game, because it’s all rigged and the only way to win is not to play.

November 18, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Compare Sweden’s Covid Outcome to That of Its Lockdown-Crazed Former Possession of Latvia

We’re only allowed to compare Sweden to its former possessions of Finland and Norway

Sweden’s historic cross-Baltic empire (in 1814 it was given Norway as a reward for abandoning Napoleon before Denmark did)
By Marko Marjanović | Anti-Empire | November 3, 2021

Covid curves of Sweden and Britain are remarkably similar. Britain’s peaks are slightly higher, as are its cumulative deaths per capita, but in general, the two share the same ups and downs and the same Covid seasons.

This might lead some to conclude that for Covid purposes Sweden and Britain are in the same region and highly comparable, but such comparisons have been outlawed by the Covid fanatics. For some reason, Sweden can for Covid reasons only ever be compared to just three other countries; Norway, Finland, and Denmark, and no others.

Sweden and Britain had outbreaks at exact same time albeit British death peaks were higher

Sweden with its 1,450 deaths per million takes 54th place, the UK with its 2,050 deaths per million takes 27th

That trio indeed had a better Covid outcome (if not a better rights, dignity, and calmness outcome) than Sweden, which supposedly means that if Sweden had locked down as they had it would have likewise experienced similarly low Covid deaths. What is the proof of that? If lockdowns “mitigate” Covid deaths then why wasn’t the UK with its even more Draconian lockdown able to replicate low Norwegian and Finnish numbers? Why wasn’t lockdown UK able to show Sweden “how it’s done” and embarrass her? (Or lockdown world leader Peru for that matter which is instead nonetheless also world’s Covid deaths leader.) Why didn’t lockdowns work in the UK, but would have in Sweden?

The answer of the lockdown lemmings is usually population density. Supposedly having a greater landmass per capita means that Sweden with its 88% urbanization rate is less densely populated than the UK with an 84% urbanization rate, and this makes all the difference.

In reality, Sweden’s three largest metro areas contain fully 32% of its population (for the UK that figure would be 22%) with most of the rest also living in densely populated (if smaller) cities and towns (disproportionally along the coast). That these historical maritime Baltic trade cities come with vast swathes of frozen northern wasteland attached, does not mean that Swedes are somehow stretched out across secluded permafrosted mountain villages. To the contrary, the very fact that Sweden is much more rugged than Britain means its population is much more concentrated in the few “good” parts of the country.

But anyhow, Sweden is only ever to be compared to its “neighbors”. But in this context what exactly is a “neighbor”? Denmark and Sweden are actually separated by a strait albeit since 2000 there is a 12-kilometer bridge-tunnel across/underneath. Sweden and Finland technically share a border, but that is in the far north where few ever visit and even fewer live. Actual Swedish-Finish links are maritime across the Baltic Sea.

Despite the theoretical land route, historically Finland functioned as a Swedish overseas possession, communication to which was maintained by sailing past the Åland islands and then up the Gulf of Finland (and up the Gulf of Bothnia when it’s not frozen). Another trans-Baltic possession of the Swedes was Latvia (Duchy of Livonia). Finland was lost to Russia during the Napoleonic period and Latvia to Peter the Great a century earlier.

The pair gained independence from Russia at the same time in 1918, but Latvia experienced a “second stint” under the Soviets from 1940 to 1991.

Owing to Swedish (and earlier Baltic German) influence Latvia remains a Lutheran country with recognizable northern historic architecture.

Finland had been under Swedish rule for basically forever, while Latvia was originally conquered and Christianized by mainly German-speaking crusaders who secularized and switched to Protestantism after Luther.

Latvia speaks a Baltic language very different from Germanic Swedish, and Finland speaks a Finnic language that is not even in the Indo-European family of languages.

A ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki takes 16 hours and 15 minutes and runs five times a week. A ferry from Stockholm to Riga takes 18 hours and 30 minutes and runs once a week. (Helsinki is twice the size of Riga and there are more reasons to go there.)

So if we are allowed to compare Covid outcomes in Sweden and in its former overseas territory of Finland, may we also be so bold as to compare it to the outcome in its (previously German-ruled) former territory of Latvia?

Let’s say that we are.

If we do that we find that Latvia has been extremely gung ho on lockdowns, locking down early, hard, and often, and garnering considerable praise for doing so. We also find that despite coming out of the first wave almost completely unscathed and continuing to dutifully lockdown ever since Latvia by now has 20% more per capita Covid deaths than never-lockdown Sweden and rising.

Latvia with 1,750 deaths per million and quickly rising

Lockdown enthusiasts maintain that Latvia’s lockdown was responsible for the country not experiencing the first wave in the spring of 2020 at all, but since that wave skipped entire Eastern Europe, including neighboring Belarus which never locked down, that is highly debatable. More likely Latvia and the rest of the eastern half of the continent would have never experienced the first wave regardless of what they did. Or what else explains the instruments which supposedly worked so flawlessly in the Spring of 2020 failing so utterly ever since?

A possible argument in defense of Latvia’s Covid record could be that comparison to Sweden is not fair given the latter’s much higher vaccination rate.

That argument doesn’t hold up because Sweden faced both of its major outbreaks before vaccines were a factor. Meanwhile, Latvia has only hit its biggest outbreak now that many of its residents have vaccine protection.

The vast majority of Swedish Covid cases occurred before February 2021, that is to say before vaccines. Meanwhile, Latvia gets the luxury of not having to face its biggest, deadliest wave until it has reached a 57% vaccination rate, and it is lockdown Latvia, rather than laissez-faire Sweden, which is hitting higher peaks and has already accumulated more Covid deaths. Explain that.

Latvia didn’t hit peak Covid until a considerable vaccination rate

And for the record, Latvia’s urbanization rate is 68%. Unlike Sweden, Latvia actually is still significantly rural. (Not that any of that matters in the least, as a cursory glance to lockdown North Dakota and non-lockdown South Dakota will tell you, both of which recorded relatively high Covid deaths despite their low population densities. (Incidentally, like Latvia, South Dakota also completely skipped the first wave, despite never locking down.))

Riga in its Hanseatic-Lutheran style

November 4, 2021 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

House of Commons Covid Report Gets Some Things Right, Most Things Wrong

By Toby Young • The Daily Sceptic • October 12, 2021

On Monday evening two House of Commons select committees – the Science and Technology Committee and the Health and Social Care Committee – published a joint report on the Government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic that was predictably damning. It was published in time to make the following day’s front pages – “Britain must learn from ‘big mistakes’ on Covid, says report”, reported the Times on its front page – but not in time for newspaper reporters or broadcast journalists to properly assess its findings. Not that that stopped all the usual suspects from using it as a stick to beat the Government with. For instance, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth told the BBC that the “damning” findings showed that “monumental errors” had been made and called for the public inquiry – scheduled for next spring – to be brought forward.

The authors of the report say in the Executive Summary that the reason they’ve published it now, when there are still a large number of ‘known unknowns’ as well as ‘unknown unknowns’, is because we urgently need to learn from what the Government got right and what it got wrong so we are better prepared for the next pandemic, which might come along at any moment. But if it’s too soon to say what was a mistake and what wasn’t, that argument collapses. Indeed, a premature report that draws the wrong conclusions, e.g. that the Government didn’t lock down in March of last year early enough, which is one of the main findings of this report, is worse than useless since it may encourage future Governments to repeat the same mistakes.

I’ve now read the report – yes, all 145 pages – so you don’t have to.

What the report gets right

  • It criticises the Government for discharging elderly patients from hospitals into care homes without testing them first to see if they had COVID-19 and without putting any measures in place in care homes to mitigate the impact of that policy, as well as for the lack of PPE in care homes. The report says these errors “led to many thousands of deaths which could have been avoided”. Hard to argue with that, although one of the oddities of the report is that it criticises the lack of infection control in care homes, but not in hospitals. Weird, given that ~20% of cases over the course of the U.K.’s epidemic have been hospital-acquired infections.
  • The authors praise the RECOVERY trial for carrying out large randomised control trials of different COVID-19 treatments and identifying dexamethasone as an effective treatment. That too seems right.
  • The report highlights the disproportionately high Covid death rates among black, Asian and minority ethnic populations and acknowledges that part of the explanation for that may be biological differences between those populations and the white British population. Even acknowledging that genetic factors may be part of the reason for these disparities makes a refreshing change. Unfortunately, the report goes on to play down these biological differences and claims that social, economic and health inequalities are much bigger factors.
  • It criticises hospitals and care homes for issuing ‘Do Not Attempt CPR’ notices to patients/clients with learning disabilities and autism, often without the consent of their families. No argument there.
  • Rather than blame Boris and other senior members of the Government for the decision not to lock down before March 23rd 2020, the report emphasises that they were just following the recommendations they were being given by their scientific advisors. As I’ve pointed out before, that is correct.
  • The report is at least ambivalent about how effective a two-week ‘circuit breaker’ would have been in England in September of 2020.

It is impossible to know whether a circuit breaker in the early autumn of 2020 would have had a material effect in preventing a second lockdown given that the Kent (or Alpha) variant may already have been prevalent. Indeed such an approach was pursued in Wales, which still ended up having further restrictions in December 2020.

Unfortunately, having written this, the authors then go on to say:

It is likely that a “circuit break” of temporary lockdown measures if introduced in September 2020, and earlier lockdown measures during the winter, could have impeded the rapid seeding and spread of the Kent variant.

Make up your mind guys!

What the report gets wrong

  • The report claims that the U.K.’s Pandemic Preparedness Strategy wasn’t fit for purpose because it prepared us for “an influenza-like pandemic” rather than a more serious infectious disease that was spread, in part, by asymptomatic transmission. Professor Devi Sridhar, who gave evidence to the joint committees, is quoted as saying the mistake our Government made was to assume COVID-19 was “just like a bad flu”. In fact, it was like a bad flu, as judged by the latest estimates of the infection fatality rate, and the jury’s still out on whether asymptomatic people who test positive for Covid are infectious.
  • One of the reasons the Government didn’t lock down before March 23rd, according to the authors, is because its scientific advisors were guilty of following the flawed playbook of the Pandemic Preparedness Strategy. In particular, the initial advice was to try to ‘manage’ the spread of the virus through the general population rather than to suppress it altogether, which the authors believe would have been the correct strategy. They claim the Government didn’t realise this sooner because it had failed to learn the lessons of the SARS, Swine Flu and MERS pandemics and embed those lessons in its strategy. But, surely, one of the lessons of those pandemics is that national lockdowns aren’t necessary to contain pandemics – and that advice was embedded in the U.K. Government’s strategy document. The mistake the Government made was not to initially follow that advice; the mistake was to stop following it on March 23rd. The only time a government has tried quarantining entire regions as a strategy to mitigate the impact of a viral outbreak prior to 2020 was in Mexico in 2009 when something like a lockdown was imposed on April 27th in Mexico City, the State of Mexico and the State of San Luis Potosí. That was policy abandoned on May 6th because of the mounting social and economic costs.
  • Bizarrely, the authors of the report claim the reason the British Government didn’t abandon the Pandemic Preparedness Strategy sooner was because of “groupthink”. But, surely, the reason for putting a carefully thought out strategy document in place, incorporating the lessons from the mistakes made during previous pandemics, was precisely to avoid Government decisions being influenced by groupthink. And that approach was successful until mid-March, at which point Boris Johnson and his closest political allies abandoned it and decided to copy what other Western leaders were doing, i.e. lockdown. In other words, it was groupthink that was responsible for the disastrous U-turn, not the comparatively sensible initial approach.
  • One of the main conclusions of the report is that the Government should have locked down earlier than it did – that’s one of the “big mistakes” in all the headlines – and they quote Professor Neil Ferguson to that effect:

The initial U.K. policy was to take a gradual and incremental approach to introducing non-pharmaceutical interventions. A comprehensive lockdown was not ordered until March 23rd 2020 – two months after SAGE first met to consider the national response to COVID- 19. This slow and gradualist approach was not inadvertent, nor did it reflect bureaucratic delay or disagreement between Ministers and their advisers. It was a deliberate policy – proposed by official scientific advisers and adopted by the Governments of all of the nations of the United Kingdom. It is now clear that this was the wrong policy, and that it led to a higher initial death toll than would have resulted from a more emphatic early policy. In a pandemic spreading rapidly and exponentially every week counted. The former SAGE participant Professor Neil Ferguson told the Science and Technology Committee that if the national lockdown had been instituted even a week earlier “we would have reduced the final death toll by at least a half”.

  • In fact, it’s far from clear that “this was the wrong policy” or that it “led to a higher initial death toll”. The authors of this report take it for granted that – in the words of Professor David Paton – “governments can turn infections on or off like a tap by imposing or lifting restrictions”, when all the real-world data we’ve accumulated in the past 18 months suggests that is hopelessly naive (see these 30 studies, for instance). Governments around the world, including ours, have been guilty of wildly over-estimating the impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions on the spread of the virus.
  • In the British case, there’s no reason to believe that locking down earlier would have reduced the final death toll at all, let alone by half. As David Paton points out, the Czech Republic locked down on March 16th, imposed hard border controls and rolled out the first national mask mandate in Europe. Yet it had a second surge in the Autumn of 2020, prompting it to lock down again, and then an even bigger one in December, leading to a third lockdown. Cases surged again in Czechia in February and March of this year and, six months ago, it had the second-highest per capita Covid death toll in the world, according to Reuters.

More damning still is the comparison with Sweden, which didn’t lock down at all in 2020 and, as of today, is ranked 50th in Worldometers’ table ranking countries according to per capita deaths. The U.K., by contrast, is ranked 25th.

 

  • There are only three mentions of Sweden in this report, two of them in a single footnote. Any assessment of the U.K. Government’s response to the pandemic that fails to compare it with that of the Swedish Government – particularly one advocating we should have locked down sooner and for longer – doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously.
  • The report’s authors take at face value the “reasonable worst-case” scenarios that various modellers (including a sidekick of Dominic Cummings’) came up with in mid-March to show that if the Government continued to follow Plan A, i.e. the Pandemic Preparedness Strategy, the NHS was on track to become overwhelmed many times over. Here is Matt Hancock giving evidence on June 8th 2021, appealing to a prediction of “slightly below” 820,000 deaths, absent a lockdown:

I asked for a reasonable worst-case scenario planning assumption. I was given the planning assumption based on Spanish flu, and it was signed off at Cobra on January 31st. That was a planning assumption for 820,000 deaths. […]

In the week beginning March 9th, what happened is that the data started to follow the reasonable worst-case scenario. By the end of that week, the updated modelling showed that we were on the track of something close to that reasonable worst-case scenario. I think the numbers were slightly below that, but they were of a scale that was unconscionable.

  • Rather than just take those projections at face value, couldn’t the House of Commons committees have interrogated the models a little bit? The report’s most damning criticism – that the Government’s delay in imposing the first lockdown resulted in thousands of unnecessary deaths – is contingent on not questioning those forecasts. In light of SAGE’s over-estimate of the likely uptick in cases following the easing of restrictions on July 19th of this year, as well as its more recent over-estimate of hospitalisations this autumn, wouldn’t it have been prudent to scrutinise those models? That’s a particularly glaring omission, given that the authors of the report criticise members of the Government for not challenging the scientific advice they were given: “Those in Government have a duty to question and probe the assumptions behind any scientific advice given, particularly in a national emergency, but there is little evidence sufficient challenge took place.” Why do “those in Government” have a duty to do this, but not those serving on select committees who are supposed to be holding the Government to account?
  • In case further evidence is required that the authors of the report have credulously lapped up the doom-mongering of SPI-M and others, consider this passage:

It seems astonishing looking back that – despite the documented experiences of other countries; despite the then Secretary of State referring to data with a Reasonable Worst Case Scenario of 820,000 deaths; despite the raw mathematics of a virus which, if it affected two-thirds of the adult population and if one percent of people contracting it died would lead to 400,000 deaths – it was not until March 16th that SAGE advised the Government to embark on a full lockdown (having said on March 13th that “it was unanimous that measures seeking to completely suppress the spread of COVID-19 will cause a second peak”) and not until March 23rd that the Government announced it.

  • Note the appeal to an IFR of 1% when even Neil Ferguson’s team at Imperial College, which predicted 510,000 deaths if the Government stuck with Plan A in its famous March 16th paper, assumed an IFR of 0.9%. In fact, a WHO bulletin put the IFR at 0.23% as long ago as October 2020.
  • This unwillingness to interrogate the modelling data that underpins the report’s conclusions is particularly odd, given that the authors acknowledge the limitations of modelling elsewhere – “Models can be useful and informative to policymakers, but they come with limitations” – and at one point try to blame the delay in lockdown down on an “overreliance on specific mathematical models”! Again it’s a case of one rule for me and another for thee.
  • The report compares the response of the British government in the first months of the pandemic unfavourably to that of various East Asian and South East Asian governments, but overlooks the fact that many Asian countries that successfully suppressed infection by closing borders at the beginning of 2020, and rolling out successful test, trace and isolate programmes, are now in the grip of devastating waves in spite of having vaccinated large swathes of their populations. That suggests their non-pharmaceutical interventions only succeeded in postponing the impact of SARS-CoV-2, not avoiding it. (It also fails to note that these supposed role models didn’t issue stay-at-home orders, close schools or shutter businesses in their initial responses to the pandemic.)
  • The report criticises the Government for stopping community testing in March 2020 due to PHE’s lack of testing capacity and praises Matt Hancock for setting the 100,000 tests a day target to galvanise the system into massively ramping up that capacity. Indeed, the authors claim that had a proper test-and-trace system been in place at the beginning of 2020, the initial lockdown might have been avoided. That, too, is a shaky assumption. After all, the Government has spent £37 billion and counting on a ‘world-beating’ test, trace and isolate programme but that didn’t stop us locking down for a second and third time. The authors of the report acknowledge this point, but blame Baroness Harding for not doing a better job of running NHS Test and Trace. That seems a tad harsh, particularly as the authors repeatedly say – Uriah Heap-like – that it’s not their intention to apportion blame for the mistakes they’ve identified.
  • The report praises the speed at which the Nightingale hospitals were created, although it acknowledges that, for the most part, they weren’t used. But the reason they weren’t used is partly because the NHS lacked the trained employees to staff them with – ICU nurses, for instance. Perhaps if they’d been built with less speed – at a cost to the taxpayer of roughly half a billion pounds, don’t forget – the Government would have had time to spot this obvious flaw in the plan. Or, more realistically, those aware of it from the start would have had more time to organise and obstruct this expensive PR stunt.
  • The authors praise the Government – and the NHS – for at no point running out of ICU beds and becoming overwhelmed, as the health system did in some parts of Italy during the first phase of the pandemic. But given the enormous cost of protecting the NHS – both in terms of seriously ill people who were either discharged or went untreated, as well as the collateral damage inflicted by the lockdowns on the economy, education, family life, mental health, etc. – it’s impossible to say whether prioritising the NHS at the expense of absolutely everything else was in fact the right strategy. To bottom that out you need to do some cost-benefit analysis, of which there is precisely none in this report.
  • The report concludes by praising the Vaccine Taskforce under the leadership of Kate Bingham and highlights the ‘success’ of the U.K.’s vaccine programme – “one of the most effective in Europe and, for a country of our size one of the most effective in the world”. But they ignore the fact that the efficacy of the Covid vaccines is much less impressive than the initial trial data indicated and looks less impressive with each passing week, something Dr. Will Jones has been meticulously documenting for the Daily Sceptic. So was the massive Government expenditure on the development and trialling of home grown vaccines, as well as procuring hundreds of millions of vaccines manufactured overseas, worth it? One notable omission from the report is any acknowledgement of the risks associated with a fast-tracked vaccine approval process – it just breathlessly praises the speed with which vaccines were made available to the public and expresses the hope that “in the future this could be conducted in much shorter time still”.

Conclusion

This is a pretty feeble document that seems to have been written with an eye on getting Jeremy Hunt and Greg Clark – the chairs of the two select committees involved – on the BBC news rather than making a serious contribution to understanding what the Government got right and what it got wrong over the past 18 months. It’s hard to argue with some of its findings, but its headline conclusion – that the Government should have locked down earlier – isn’t based on any serious analysis, let alone a careful consideration of the evidence that seems to point in the opposite direction. Talk about groupthink!

I hope the official inquiry, when it comes, is a bit more intellectually weighty than this.

October 14, 2021 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | Leave a comment

Covid in Sweden: Everything on the table

Sebastian Rushworth, M.D. | October 2, 2021

A group of German celebrities have started the campaign “alles auf den tisch”, which literally means “everything on the table”. It’s a reaction to the shocking lack of indepence and critical oversight that has been exhibited by journalists ever since the pandemic began. The purpose of the campaign is to break through the blinkered media narrative that exists in relation to covid, and allow a wider range of thoughts and opinions to get out.

In order to accomplish this, the celebrities have interviewed a large number of doctors and scientists who have thus far been sidelined by the mainstream media, and put the interviews up on their site allesaufdentisch.tv. The campaign appears to have been pretty effective so far, since the site crashed on launch due to the massive amount of traffic it was getting. Luckily it’s up and running again now. As a part of the campaign, I was interviewed by violinist Linus Roth. We talked about happenings in Sweden, the covid death rate, and lockdowns. The interview is short but sweet, only around twenty minutes long.

October 4, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science, Video | , , , | Leave a comment

Mask-free Sweden nears zero daily Covid deaths

Chief epidemiologist warns against ‘far-reaching conclusions’ about Delta strain

RT | July 31, 2021

As the CDC urges Americans to mask up against the Delta variant, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist has argued that more data is needed about the strain’s infectiousness. His mask-free nation is hovering at zero Covid deaths per day.

Anders Tegnell said on Friday that there was “a lot we do not know” about Delta and cautioned against drawing “far-reaching conclusions” about the coronavirus strain. He noted that the variant had been circulating in Sweden “for quite some time” with little effect, particularly in high-risk settings such as nursing homes.

His comments were made in response to newly released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggesting the Delta strain is more transmissible and could potentially cause more severe illness. The New York Times and other media outlets ran stories reporting that the CDC now believes the Delta variant is as contagious as chickenpox – but this comparison didn’t seem to impress Tegnell.

“It is difficult to say how contagious Delta is, [as] when it comes to chickenpox, we have been able to follow the disease for several years. The infectivity [of Delta] seems to be very uneven – in some cases, one person infects a hundred people, then we have other occasions when an infected person does not infect anyone at all,” he told Sweden’s Aftonbladet.

In separate remarks, he pointed to the fact that one-third of the country’s municipalities reported zero new Covid cases over the past week. At the same time, there was an uptick in cases among young people in Stockholm and other large cities.

And while US health authorities are pressing Americans in “high transmission” areas to mask up, Sweden dropped its last remaining mask recommendation – related to public transport – on July 1. While Sweden’s public health agency has supported measures such as social distancing and remote working, it has no recommendations for the use of face coverings in public spaces.

Reviled by the media for refusing to impose harsh lockdowns, Sweden’s less draconian approach to the health crisis appears to be paying off: The Scandinavian nation has recorded a total of eight Covid-linked deaths so far this month, an average of 0.25 deaths per day. While it’s possible this number will increase due to reporting lags, deaths have undoubtedly plummeted over the past several months. On June 4, Sweden reported 13 deaths – more than the entire month of July.

Daily hospitalizations have also hovered near zero in July: On most days this month, the country saw between 0-2 Covid-cases requiring hospital treatment. At the same time, daily cases have fallen sharply since April. … Full article

July 31, 2021 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment

Daily COVID Deaths in Sweden Hit Zero, as Other Nations Brace for More Lockdowns

Sweden isn’t in the news much these days. There’s a reason for that.

By Jon Miltimore | FEE | July 22, 2021

More than 100,000 people flooded streets in France over the weekend and multiple COVID vaccination centers were vandalized as opposition grew to the government’s most recent pandemic strategy. In President Emmanuel Macron’s latest incarnation of lockdowns, government officials have decreed that unvaccinated individuals will no longer be allowed to enter cafes, restaurants, theaters, public transportation and more.

Needless to say, people were not happy.

France’s approach is unique, but it’s just one of many countries around the world imposing new restrictions as fears grow over a new variant of COVID-19. Australia’s recent restrictions have placed half the country under strict lockdown—even though a record 82,000 tests had identified just 111 new coronavirus cases—while restaurants in Portugal are struggling to survive amid newly imposed restrictions.

One country not making much news is Sweden.

Sweden, of course, was maligned in 2020 for foregoing a strict lockdown. The Guardian called its approach “a catastrophe” in the making, while CBS News said Sweden had become “an example of how not to handle COVID-19.”

Despite these criticisms, Sweden’s laissez-faire approach to the pandemic continues today. In contrast to its European neighbors, Sweden is welcoming tourists. Businesses and schools are open with almost no restrictions. And as far as masks are concerned, not only is there no mandate in place, Swedish health officials are not even recommending them.

What are the results of Sweden’s much-derided laissez-faire policy? Data show the 7-day rolling average for COVID deaths yesterday was zero (see below). As in nada. And it’s been at zero for about a week now.

Even a year ago, it was clear the hyperbolic claims about “the Swedish catastrophe” were false; just ask Elon Musk (also see: herehere, and here). But a year later the evidence is overwhelming that Sweden got the pandemic mostly right. Sweden’s overall mortality rate in 2020 was lower than most of Europe and its economy suffered far less. Meanwhile, today Sweden is freer and healthier than virtually any other country in Europe.

As much of the world remains gripped in fear and nations devise new restrictions to curtail basic freedoms, Sweden remains a vital and shining reminder that there is a better way.

July 26, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 2 Comments

Is this why the MSM don’t mention Sweden any more?

By Kathy Gyngell | The Conservative Woman | June 8, 2021

WHATEVER happened in Sweden with its policy of no masks and no lockdowns ?

In his latest brilliant video, Ivor Cummins invites us to see. Succinct and logical as ever, it is another must-watch. After making a statement about the official and therefore uncensorable data his analysis draws on – all the links to his evidence are provided – he asks the simple question: Who got the science correct? Ferguson and his big outfit at Imperial College, massively funded by Gates and Big Pharma interests? Or Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist, who said he could be judged around this time in 2021? The answer is Sweden, which followed the World Health Organisation’s 2019 pandemic guidelines that Britain threw in the bin.

Cummins goes on to show the real-world risk of death from Covid to be extremely small for those with PCR positive tests and infinitesimal for the rest. Taking Ireland as an example, he shows there is no evidence of excess deaths for the year 2020 and that Covid deaths simply make up a chunk of the normal deaths that would be expected anyway.

You can watch the video here.

The source article for the Sweden Data: https://shahar-26393.medium.com/not-a…

June 8, 2021 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 1 Comment

Swedish Schools Under Fire for Forcing Pupils to Participate in Climate Strike, Gay Pride

By Igor Kuznetsov – Sputnik – 03.06.2021

Sweden’s Justice Ombudsman, appointed by parliament, has criticised two schools for forcing students to take part in political demonstrations, including a gay Pride-themed event and a school strike for climate, the news outlet Nyheter Idag reported.

According to the complaint upheld by the ombudsman, Pilbäcksskolan school in Växjö had arranged a Pride parade that was mandatory for the students to participate in, whereas Västangård school in the city of Umeå had arranged a compulsory climate event.

The ombudsman noted that the demonstrations appeared to be part of regular school work and suggested it is conceivable that “some students were reluctant to stand out from the crowd by refraining from participating, even if they or their guardians did not really want them to be there”. “Against this background, I believe that the students may be considered to have been forced to participate in the activity”, the ombudsman wrote.

The municipalities in question saw no problems with the schools’ actions. The Board of Education in Växjö municipality defended the Pride Parade, which was part of a theme week on the equal value of all people, and argued that participation was part of the school’s “basic values work”.

The climate strike organised by Västangård school was defended by the Pre-school and Primary School Committee in Umeå municipality, which argued that it cannot be viewed as a political demonstration and claimed participation was in fact voluntary. This goes against testimonies provided by the children’s guardians who said that students who sought to avoid participating were told that it was mandatory.

Västangård school was also reported to the Swedish Schools Inspectorate, which, however, chose not to investigate the matter. The head of the Umeå School Inspectorate, Eva-Lena Öhlund-Brändström rejected the criticism from, among others, Moderate Party politician Anders Ågren, by claiming the students had merely gathered to report on the school’s climate work.

The ombudsman, by contrast, argued that the rectors in both cases deserve criticism for what happened, but otherwise didn’t hand out any disciplinary measures or statements.

June 3, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Denmark helped NSA spy on Merkel & other European leaders, new reports reveal, as Snowden says Biden was ‘deeply involved’

RT | May 30, 2021

The US National Intelligence Agency received support from Denmark in spying on European politicians, according to a new joint media report, something President Joe Biden is well-informed to answer for, says Edward Snowden.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank Walter-Steinmeier are among those who were spied on by the NSA with the cooperation and help of the Danish Defense Intelligence Service (FE), according to the European media investigation.

The US spying on not only its own citizens, but also leaders in foreign countries is an accusation that came to light in 2013, mostly thanks to documents leaked by former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower – though he remains a fugitive in the US – Edward Snowden. Snowden’s leaks specifically revealed Merkel’s private cell phone had been monitored by US authorities.

The new revelations come as a result of multiple European news outlets – including Danish state broadcaster DR, German NDR, Swedish SVT, Norwegian NRK and French Le Monde among others – obtaining access to internal reports and information from Danish Secret Service sources.

According to the investigation, politicians in Germany, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, France and even Danish finance industries were also targeted by the NSA with the help of Danish spies. The Danish government has reportedly known about the cooperation for years and forced FE leadership to step down in 2020 after discovering the full extent of the relationship following an internal investigation. They did not, however, report the findings to any European Union allies.

The spying was primarily done through hijacking Danish electronic communications systems as the country has landing stations for subsea internet cables between numerous countries, such as Germany and Sweden. By using politicians’ and officials’ phone numbers, authorities were able to pull texts and phone calls, while those being spied on were none the wiser.

Snowden, who made his revelations about the NSA while Biden was vice president, says the current president is “well-prepared” to answer the accusations and that there should be a requirement of “full disclosure” from both Denmark and the US.

“Biden is well-prepared to answer for this when he soon visits Europe since, of course, he was deeply involved in this scandal the first time around,” he tweeted. “There should be an explicit requirement for full public disclosure not only from Denmark, but their senior partner as well.”

In response to explosive reports, Norway’s Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen said they were “taking the allegations seriously,” while Sweden’s Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said he “demanded full information on these things.” Neither the NSA nor the Danish Defence Intelligence Service have issued a comment yet.

Former German opposition leader and Merkel rival, Peer Steinbrück, who also reportedly had his communications monitored, told German broadcaster ARD that he considers the situation to be a “scandal.”

“It is grotesque that friendly intelligence services are indeed intercepting and spying on top representatives of other countries,” he said.

May 30, 2021 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Update on the Swedish covid response

By Sebastian Rushworth M.D. | December 19, 2020

Since my article at the end of October detailing exactly what had been happening in Sweden in relation to covid up to that point, I’ve been getting a lot of requests for a new update, detailing events in November and December. Here it is.

I ended my previous article by stating that there had been a slow increase in hospitalizations and deaths in October, and that the slope of the curve suggested that the peak would end up being significantly lower than in spring. That slow increase continued through most of November, and appears to have stabilized at a level of around 70 deaths per day at the beginning of December (as a reminder, in spring deaths peaked at 115 deaths per day in mid-April).

This makes Sweden similar to the UK and the Netherlands, two countries that Sweden has been tracking closely throughout the pandemic, with a second peak in deaths per day that is a little over half what was seen in spring.

Here in Stockholm, the number of people being treated in hospital for covid has been stable since late November, with around 800 people being treated simultaneously for covid in hospitals (in spring around 1,100 people were simultaneously being treated for covid in Stockholm at the peak).

Since the total number of hospital beds in Stockholm is around 3,850, it should be plain to everyone that the healthcare system has never been close to being overwhelmed, in spite of claims to the contrary in media. And while it is true that hospitals are currently at 100% capacity, it is false to claim that that situation is in any way unusual. Sweden has among the lowest number of hospital beds per 100,000 population in Europe, and the hospitals are always running at 100% capacity this time of year.

My feeling (shared by multiple colleagues I’ve spoken with) is also that we’re being more generous with which covid patients we admit to the hospital than we were in spring, when we were more worried about the system being overwhelmed. In other words, if we had been as strict with admitting covid patients in autumn as we were in spring, the number of people in hospital in Stockholm with covid would not currently be 800, it would be quite a bit lower.

Other parts of Sweden, that were only hit lightly in spring, have however been hit harder the second time around. For example, Skåne, in the south, has been hit much harder in autumn than it was in spring. Parts of northern Sweden have also been hit harder.

One thing that I think is very interesting, that has received little mention in media, is that the proportion of people with antibodies has been rising by 2-3 percent every week. In Stockholm, 37% of those tested for antibodies in week 49 were positive (up from 20% six weeks earlier). That suggests that the level of immunity is rising very rapidly in the population, and makes it questionable whether the vaccine will arrive in time to have any meaningful impact on the course of covid-19 in Sweden, even if people start to get vaccinated shortly after Christmas, as is currently planned.

Overall, the situation is no more serious now than it was in spring, at least if you look at deaths, ICU-admissions, and hospitalizations. During the spring peak, 2,350 people were being treated simultaneously for covid in hospitals in Sweden as a whole. At present, 2,500 people are being treated in hospitals for covid, but, as mentioned, these 2,500 are on average less sick than the 2,350 being treated in spring, which is likely why deaths are lower even though hospitalizations are up a bit. Another data point in support of this is that at present, 290 people are being treated for covid in Intensive Care Units (where the very sickest people end up). In spring, that number was 550.

In the parts of Sweden that were hit hard in spring, like Stockholm, the situation is clearly less serious now than it was then. Of course, if you ignore hospitalizations, ICU-admissions, and deaths, and just look at cases, the situation looks a lot worse than in spring, but that is due to the fact that we’re now testing ten times as many people per week as we were at the end of April.

Apart from that, we know a lot more about covid now than we did in spring. We now know that the overall fatality rate is less than 0,2%, and that the risk to healthy people under 70 years of age is infinitesimal. But if you see reporting in media, and if you look at the actions of the Swedish government, you get a very different picture. What follows is an update on all recommendations and restrictions coming from the Swedish state during November and December.

As I mentioned earlier, a decision was made in October by the Public Health Authority to start imposing recommendations on a local rather than national basis. This was followed by a tightening of recommendations in multiple counties over the next couple of weeks, so that by November 3rd (when tightened recommendations were imposed in Örebro, Halland, and Jönköping) fully 7 out of 10 Swedes were living in counties with tightened recommendations. On that day, the government also announced that people would be forbidden from gathering in groups of more than eight at the same table in restaurants. And it was reiterated that employers should allow employees to work from home, if possible.

On the 11th of November, the government announced that restaurants and bars would be forbidden from serving alcohol after ten pm, and would need to close at 22.30 at the latest.

On the 16th of November, the government announced that the number of people allowed at all public events (plays, demonstrations, lectures, sports events etc) was being decreased to eight, significantly lower than the previous lowest limit of 50.

On the 19th of November, the government authorized the Public Health Authority to make decisions to stop visits to nursing homes on a county by county basis (during spring and summer, all nursing homes in Sweden were closed to visitors, but this restriction was lifted at the beginning of October). On the 4th of December the Public Health Authority decided to make use of this measure, closing nursing homes to outside visitors in 32 Swedish municipalities (out of a total of 290).

On the 3rd of December, the government announced that high school students (ages 16-19) would return to distance learning, as had been the case during a period in spring. Initially, the plan is that this will apply until January 6th (this has later been extended to January 24th).

And then, on the 18th of December, the government went even further, imposing the most severe restrictions yet. Restaurants and bars are now ordered to stop serving alcohol at 20.00, and groups in restaurants are not allowed to number more than four. Shopping centers and other public venues like supermarkets and gyms are ordered to set a max number of visitors, so that crowding can’t happen. All public venues that are run by the state, such as libraries, public swimming pools, and museums, are ordered to close, and stay closed at least until January 24th. The government has also recommended that people start wearing face masks in public transport during rush hour.

In total, this means that the restrictions and recommendations in place are now much more severe than the ones that were in place in spring. As I think is clear, the Swedish government has played a much more active role in autumn than it did in spring, when it was happy to let the Public Health Authority do most of the decision making.

The rhetoric from the Swedish government has also been more alarmist the second time around, with the Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, delivering speeches that make it sound as if Sweden is going to war, for example telling people on November 16th to “do their duty”.

The Health Minister, Lena Hallengren, said in a speech on November 16th “don’t consider these measures voluntary”, about the voluntary recommendations that the government is asking people to follow. To me, that’s pretty clear evidence that the only reason Sweden hasn’t followed other countries in imposing severe legally enforced restrictions is that the Swedish constitution has prohibited it.

In conclusion, the Swedish government has officially lost its mind. In the name of protecting public health, the government is doing its utmost to destroy public health. In spite of the fact that some of the biggest risk factors for severe covid are obesity and lack of exercise, the government is seriously telling people to stop visiting swimming pools and gyms; in other words, to stop exercising.

Why the change in tone from the Swedish government during November and December?

If one were cynical, one might think it was due to the fact that the governing Social Democrats received a big boost to their opinion ratings in April and May, in the usual “rally around the flag” fashion seen when a nation faces some type of crisis, but since then they have been polling worse month on month. Maybe they saw their polling numbers, panicked, and hoped that they would get a boost in the polls if they could appear more assertive. Or maybe they’ve just capitulated to international pressure to “get in line”.

You might also be interested in my article about why Sweden had more covid deaths than neighboring countries, or my article about whether lockdown is effective.

I am rolling out a ton of new science-backed content over the coming months, including:

– Analyses of the benefits and risks of all common supplements and medications
– The keys to a longer, healthier life (possibly quite different from what you may have heard)
– A long-term follow-up of the health consequences of the covid pandemic and global lockdown.

December 19, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment

Why did Sweden have more covid deaths than its neighbors?

By Sebastian Rushworth, M.D. | December 6, 2020

One of the arguments that has been used in support of strict lockdown is that Sweden has had significantly more covid deaths than its nordic neighbours. On the 19th of November, Sweden had registered 637 covid deaths per million people. For comparison, Denmark had registered 140, Norway had registered 57, and Finland had registered 69.

But, as I wrote about recently, the studies that have been done have not been able to find any correlation between severity of lockdown and the number of covid deaths. Which must logically mean that Sweden’s higher death rate was not due to the fact that it didn’t institute a severe lockdown. So, if that is the case, why did Sweden have more covid deaths than its closest neighbors?

A paper written by three economists at the end of August sought to answer that question. The research didn’t receive any specific funding, and the authors reported no conflicts of interest. The authors provided 15 different factors that could potentially explain the difference. I’m going to focus on the few that I think are likely the most important.

The first hypothesis is that Sweden, and in particular Stockholm, imported many more cases of covid-19 from abroad before measures were put in place to stop the spread between countries. The main reason for this is that Stockholm has a half-term holiday (“sportlovet”) in late February, when many people go skiing in the alps. The other nordic countries have similar holidays, but they have them earlier. So any Norwegians, Danes, or Finns who went skiing in the alps, would have gone there before the pandemic exploded in that region, while the people from Stockholm were there when infections were spreading at their worst.

The two other large-ish cities in Sweden, Malmö and Gothenburg, provide a useful control for this hypothesis. Both cities have their half-term holiday a week or two before Stockholm, and both were hit far less severely than Stockholm in the first wave. Stockholm experienced 40% of Swedish covid deaths, despite having only 24% of Sweden’s population.

Apart from this, Swedes travel internationally far more than their nordic neighbors (80% more per million people), which would have resulted in significantly more cases of covid being brought in to the country at the beginning of the pandemic.

The second hypothesis concerns the fact that Sweden has a much bigger population of immigrants than its nordic neighbors. 19% of Sweden’s population is foreign born, as opposed to 14% for Denmark and Norway, and only 8% for Finland. What this means in practice is that Sweden has a bigger population of people with darker skin, and it has been clear since early in the pandemic that darker skinned people in western countries are much more likely to develop severe covid than lighter skinned people.

As an aside, Much of the media debate around this phenomenon has centred around the idea that darker skinned people generally have lower status, higher rates of poverty, worse access to health care and so on – basically, that the difference is due to institutional racism.

But there is one big problem with that idea. It doesn’t fit all the facts. An article in the Washington Post on May 20th reported that 27 of 29 doctors who had died of covid in the UK up to that point belonged to ethnic minorities. In other words, 93% of doctors who had died at that point came from ethnic minorities, even though they only constitute 44% of all doctors in the country. Why is this important? Because doctors with darker skin are still doctors, which means that they are members of a high status, well paid, well-off segment of society.

Note, I’m not saying that institutional racism doesn’t exist. I’m just saying that it can’t explain why darker skinned people in western countries are hit much harder by covid than lighter skinned people.

Vitamin D deficiency could though. Darker skinned people in northern Europe are more likely to be vitamin D deficient for the simple reason that their skin isn’t as good at producing vitamin D from the feeble sunlight we get in this part of the world. A number of observational studies have shown that people with low vitamin D levels do worse when infected with covid, and there is even a randomized trial in which patients treated with high dose vitamin D did much better than the control group, which I’ve written about in a separate article (funnily enough, that study gained pretty much zero media attention, while remdesivir, a highly expensive drug that is almost completely useless against covid, has been talked about endlessly).

Anyway, what the authors are saying is that Sweden has a larger ethnic minority population than its nordic neighbours, and people from ethnic minorities do worse when they get covid.

The third hypothesis, and from my perspective the most important, concerns the fact that Sweden had a much larger vulnerable population at the beginning of 2020 than its nordic neighbours. This can be seen in multiple different ways in the statistics.

The first is that Sweden has a large nursing home population. Relative to population size, Sweden’s nursing home population is 50% larger than Denmark’s. And as I’ve mentioned previously, in Sweden, people don’t go to nursing homes until they are near the end of life.

The second way this can be seen in the statistics is by looking at overall mortality for the immediately preceding year, 2019. If unusually few people die in one year, then unusually many will die in the following year, since there is a carry forward effect (due to the fact that humans are not immortal). 2019 was an unusually un-deadly year in Sweden, and the early part of 2020 (pre-covid), was also unusually un-deadly, which means that there was an unusually large number of very frail old people in the country when covid struck. This same effect was not seen in Sweden’s nordic neighbours – for them 2019 was normal in terms of overall mortality.

To clarify exactly how big this difference is, let’s look at the numbers. In Sweden, overall mortality in 2019 was 2,5% lower than the average for the preceding five years. In Norway, mortality was exactly in line with the average. Denmark and Finland both had mortality rates that were 1% above the average. Denmark, Finland, and Norway were in a much better position in relation to covid from the start. Sweden was always going to have more deaths, regardless of the actions it took.

As I think this article shows, there were a number of big differences between Sweden and its nordic neighbors at the beginning of the pandemic, which are altogether certainly sufficient to explain the big difference in covid mortality.

Correlation is not causation. Many people have chosen to see a causative relationship between Sweden’s lack of severe lockdown and relatively high number of deaths, because it supports their prior beliefs about the effectiveness of lockdowns. Those beliefs are, however, not supported by the evidence.

You might also be interested in my article about how deadly covid really is, or my article about how effective lockdowns are.

December 6, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 2 Comments