- Sweden's controversial coronavirus strategy has not resulted in significant economic gains, data indicates, and has instead left the country with a far deadlier outbreak than its Nordic neighbors.
- Sweden has never issued a formal lockdown and has instead encouraged its citizens to stay home when they're sick and maintain social distancing when in public.
- But Sweden's coronavirus mortality rate is among the highest in the world, and, according to Reuters, Sweden's central bank this month forecast that its GDP would shrink by 4.5% this year.
- Jacob Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, told The New York Times on Wednesday that Sweden "literally gained nothing" economically from the risky policy.
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Sweden's controversial coronavirus strategy has not resulted in significant economic gains, data indicates, and has instead left the country with a far deadlier outbreak than its Nordic neighbors.
Sweden never issued a formal lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the country's coronavirus model has relied on personal responsibility and encourages citizens to stay home when they're sick and maintain social distancing when in public. Most businesses, restaurants, bars, and schools have remained open, though gatherings of more than 50 people were banned in late March.
Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven defended the policy as "common sense" that allowed the country to maintain the status quo.
But the unconventional strategy has faced some pushback from experts, who have said that the policy, in hindsight, "maybe hasn't been the smartest in every respect."
Jacob Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, told The New York Times on Wednesday that despite industries remaining largely open and unchanged, Sweden did not see significant economic gains.
"They literally gained nothing," Kirkegaard said. "It's a self-inflicted wound, and they have no economic gains."
According to Reuters, Sweden's central bank this month forecast that its GDP would shrink by 4.5% this year, contrasting a previous prediction that its GDP would rise by 1.3%. The Times added that Sweden's unemployment rate rose from 7.1% in March to 9% in May.
As of June 8, Sweden has reported over 73,000 coronavirus infections and more than 5,400 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University - higher than all of the other Nordic countries combined.
Sweden's coronavirus mortality rate has also been among the highest in the world.
According to figures from Our World In Data, an online research publication based at the University of Oxford, Sweden has confirmed more deaths per million people than the US, Brazil, India, and Russia, despite the fact that those countries have significantly higher death tolls overall than Sweden.
Some Swedish officials have urged the country to reconsider its coronavirus strategy as the pandemic continues.
In April, more than 2,000 Swedish scientists signed open letters urging the country to reconsider a lockdown.
Sweden's former state epidemiologist Annika Linde told the local newspaper Dagens Nyheter in May that she believed the country "should have imposed significantly tougher restrictions from the beginning."
"We should have known how underprepared we were in healthcare, and elder care," Linde told the paper. "A shutdown could have given us a chance to prepare ourselves, think things through, and radically slow the spread of infection."
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