Sweden, Ireland and a pandemic


Sir, – In your editorial of July 10th, you quote selectively from statistics to argue that Sweden’s “laissez-faire” approach to tackling Covid-19 has failed, on the grounds that Sweden has suffered more than six times as many deaths per head of population than its neighbour Denmark. Setting aside the question of whether banning gatherings of over 50 people, banning visits to nursing homes, and closing secondary schools and universities (all of which Sweden has done) can accurately be described as laissez-faire, had you taken a less partial look at the figures, you might have noticed that Spain, Italy, and Belgium, countries which implemented strict lockdowns, have all reported more Covid-19 deaths per head of population than Sweden.

Had you dug even a little further into the data, you might have been shocked to discover that Ireland, which prides itself on its response to Covid-19, has lost more than three times as many lives as Denmark per head of population.

What should we conclude from this? That lockdowns work, that they don’t work, or perhaps that a one-size-fits-all approach to tackling Covid-19 is too simplistic? – Yours, etc,