“Lockdown failed. We must follow the Swedish model and learn to live with Covid” Woolhouse

Mark-woolhouse-edinburgh

 

"We should set some ground rules too. First, we deploy only evidence-based interventions, unlike the rule-of-six in England which unnecessarily applies to children, who play a minor role in transmission, and outdoor activities, which are very low risk. Second, we have a clear plan for using the time we have bought; for instance, to build testing capacity. Third, we agree on a long term strategy that does not involve a crippling on-off cycle of circuit breakers until whenever we might get a vaccine. We must not allow the cure to become worse than the disease.

That long term strategy has to be a risk-based approach to living with Covid-19. This is a very unpleasant virus but, for the great majority of people, not nearly so unpleasant that we should contemplate shutting down society to deal with it. We can help individuals assess the risk to themselves and the people around them, enable everyone to mitigate those risks while ensuring that the most vulnerable are protected, and thereby minimise the need for government-led interventions. Would that work? It seems to be working in Sweden."  

Prof Mark Woolhouse is Chair of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh. He is a member of the UK SPI-M advisory group and of Scotland's Covid-19 Advisory Group. He is writing in a personal capacity. 

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So, what do the Shanghai police say about this man?

pl

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/09/19/uk-needs-follow-swedish-model-learn-live-covid/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Woolhouse

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35 Responses to “Lockdown failed. We must follow the Swedish model and learn to live with Covid” Woolhouse

  1. Avatar Mark Logan says:

    I think he’s right, but would point out that there isn’t a lot of strict lock downs happening here now. The problem appears to me, at least where I’m at, is that most people are still unwilling to go to restaurants, theaters and such. The few that are open are nearly empty. About the only place doing well is a Mexican place which created a very large outdoor kitchen with 55 gallon drum grills out of their parking lot and people can drive up to get their boxed Pollo Asado dinners handed to them at the curbside. A bit of a cue but quite tasty. They do frijoles and rice right too.
    But I digress…
    The Swedish economy did not and is not escape the hit.
    https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-sweden-gdp-falls-8pc-in-q2-worse-nordic-neighbors-2020-8
    I fear we must await the existence of widely available fast testing and a vaccine.

  2. Avatar Prof K says:

    Sweden’s numbers went down not because of any herd immunity but because Swedes listen to authorities, practiced social distancing seriously, took summer off to live in their boat houses, have workers’ rights like sick leave, are allowed to work from home if they can, have universal healthcare so people get tested and taken care of without fear of massive insurance bills, and they have a sense of common purpose and national responsibility. Plus their population is much healthier. If Swedes are sick, they just don’t go out and infect other people. They have a sense of social solidarity, which the US lacks almost entirely.
    Sweden can be unique because it is unique. None of these factors apply to the US, a country of obesity and disease, no effective public healthcare or even trusted governing institutions, no rights for sick workers, chronic testing problems, no tracing, and no collective discipline as a nation.
    Mass illegal immigration of disposable workers has also created whole urban ghettos where COVID has killed thousands because those folks live 15 to an apartment, go to work sick, and are scared to talk to contact tracers. I spent March through June in Boston and saw all this first hand.
    Right-wing exhortations to follow Sweden are risible because the US has none of the good institutional and cultural realities of Sweden. Sweden is a case study of collective security through social democracy.
    Furthermore, the idea that the lockdown failed is wrong; there was no effective lockdown in the US. A few states went hard, but they kept borders and airports open and allowed far too many non-essential businesses to operate. Plus, even essential businesses provided little protection to their workers. Far too many states began opening up before community transmission had been halted. And guess what? Numbers began to rise and life is still lousy in most of the country.
    The truth is that China had a lockdown and it worked undisputedly. China is COVID free and people are working hard and enjoying life. China did what it had to do to crush the virus and it deserves credit for doing so. And it only took a few difficult weeks. Americans, it seems, can’t handle those difficulties.
    Where I am now, in Eastern Canada, the lockdown also worked and we all had a completely normal summer without any COVID at all. The only cases in the Canadian Maritimes are from inbound temporary foreign workers who are tested in mandatory and strictly-enforced quarantine. Guess what? Everyone here had an amazing summer with no Covid at all. And, here in New Brunswick, a good provincial Conservative government managed everything perfectly, unlike far too many GOP-run states. And that Conservative party was just awarded a majority government in a perfectly normal and chaos-free election last week. The rest of Canada is now experiencing a second wave and also needs to learn from the Maritimes.
    “Herd immunity” is an amoral policy that will kill hundreds of thousands more Americans just so big corporations can keep paying bonuses and inflating their stock prices and sucking profits out of the impoverished American working class. Sadly, that’s what the American failure is all about and it’s a bipartisan policy. The Dems have no serious plan to deal with COVID either. They are just bloviating for partisan gains.
    I wish this wasn’t true. I would like to go back to my home and friends in MA. I have spent many fond years in the US and consider it my second home.

  3. Avatar Huntly says:

    Here, here, for Prof. K!

  4. Avatar Fred says:

    “a risk-based approach”
    Perhaps Trump should offer him a job as NIH and CDC blew that concept out of the water from day one.
    Prof K,
    “urban ghettos where COVID has killed thousands”
    While some democratic run urban death traps could be said to exist, most of the deaths from Covid 19 in the US are from nursing home patients, especially in NYC, not from apartment dewelling “mass illegal immigrantion”.
    “China is COVID free and people are working hard and enjoying life.”
    You learned about that in Eastern Canada, and you believe it? You should really go back to propadanda U for some much needed refresher training.

  5. Avatar Mike46 says:

    Amen Prof. K
    Fred: Only in America are facts propaganda and truth blasphemy.

  6. Avatar Jim says:

    “Right-wing exhortations to follow Sweden are risible”
    The venal censorship of medical doctors and infectious disease experts and epidemiologists in USA does not change the facts of what their consensus is becoming: which is expressed by Mark Woolhouse in Europe.
    People that actually reside in Massachusetts and citizens of this country are ill served by censorship, cancellation of Youtube videos by disease experts — and ill served by propaganda spit out by big media, big democrats, and other outright liars and bastards.
    The fact of the matter is: medical consensus in USA has been censored and canceled and in its place we get, instead, bobby cock, flap doodle and flim flam, to create hysteria, and from this moral turpitude many thousands have died in USA precisely because of this heinousness.
    Woolhouse says we have to confront the virus. Period.
    University of Massachusetts Medical School says this too and this is the medical consensus emerging in USA, all propaganda and censorship and hysteria reporting, notwithstanding.
    “We need to confront this virus,” said Dr. Mireya Wesslossky, MD, UmassMemorial medical center, whose area of specialty is infectious diseases. She is Associate Professor at University of Massachusetts Medical school. She said that three weeks ago.
    “We have survived as humans because. . .our immune system adapts,” Wesslossky said.
    “If children are healthy, I would send them to school,” she said.
    “The parent has the right to choose” to send their kids to school, she said.
    The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 6% of COVID-19 deaths in United States occurred when the disease is the only fatal cause at the end of Aug.
    Massachusetts Department of Public Health data reports COVID-19 deaths when the disease is the only fatal cause is 1.8%.
    Data from China reported back in March showed a 0.9% rate, meaning 99.1% died who had underlying health problems to begin with.
    The CDC Aug. 26 report shows 92% of COVID-19-related deaths in the US struck those 55 years and older, with 8 in 10 of deaths those 65 and over.
    Of the 161,392 death certificates examined so far, according to the recent CDC data, 330 people, or 0.2 percent were 0 to 24 years old.
    In this category, 111 of them suffered from influenza and pneumonia; 99 had respiratory failure; 46 had cardiac arrest; and 41, diabetes.
    The other prominent underlying condition in the 0-24 age group is obesity, the CDC data says, with that being a health problem in 79 of the 330 deaths examined.
    This is an obesity rate of 24 percent, appx. one in four, for those under 25 in USA.
    Lockdown failed.
    This killed thousands needlessly in USA.
    Children locked out of school, another failure.
    Computers in the classroom past 20 years, and another six months this year, and the evidence shows with out question: computers are NOT the answer.
    I am willing to volunteer my time to instruct teachers how to use a black board and chalk.
    20 years ago there was zero evidence computers did anything in grammar school and high school to help children learn.
    The fact “EDUCATORS” still insist on using them shows just how brain dead these orderlies, masquerading as “teachers” etc. actually are.
    Trump said one thing at his Minnesota protest/rally last night that I agree with.
    The president began his remarks by saying: “This is a protest against stupidity.”
    -30-

  7. Avatar Deap says:

    Prof K, you are a few days late with your homework assignment about the US. And you missed the current events in Sweden assignment completely. This is not a fiction writing class, Prof K. The exception does not make the rule. Your bad case of jingoist myopia may need professional attention. I thought Canadians had better manners, but you proved the opposite. Why the US envy that drove you to trash your lumbering neighbor to the south?

  8. Avatar Eliot says:

    Prof K,
    “Sweden’s numbers went down not because of any herd immunity but because Swedes listen to authorities, practiced social distancing seriously, took summer off to live in their boat houses, have workers’ rights like sick leave, are allowed to work from home if they can, have universal healthcare so people get tested and taken care of without fear of massive insurance bills, and they have a sense of common purpose and national responsibility. Plus their population is much healthier. If Swedes are sick, they just don’t go out and infect other people. They have a sense of social solidarity, which the US lacks almost entirely.”
    These are unsupported assertions, and to some degree, you’re exposing your ignorance about the United States.
    You need to establish that these were real and uniquely Swedish phenomena, that they had an influence on the case count, and in the end, the overall number of fatalities.
    You don’t do that. You simply assert that it is all true. This feels more like emotional thinking than anything else. We often wish things to be true, because it’s comfortable.
    “fear of massive insurance bills”
    This is the tell line, and another sign that you don’t really understand us, or how our system works.
    Testing in the United States was almost always free.
    You also making a sweeping comparison between Sweden, which you suggest followed these measures, with the United States, which you say did not.
    The American response was so state specific, it would be foolish to make such a comparison. You had states with brutal lockdowns, and some did almost nothing.
    The ultimate problem with your argument though is that data simply contradicts you. Parishes in Louisiana, for example, that experienced an initial surge of cases in the Winter of 2020, never saw a second wave when the state reopened. And this is Louisiana, not Massachusetts, it’s reasonable to assume that public did a poor job of following the rules.
    – Eliot

  9. Avatar turcopolier says:

    All
    The Canadians who comment here are by and large the allies of their anti-American leftist comrades everywhere. Their objective, like the motivation of the American Left, is to abolish the US.
    In the case of the Canadian lefties what they want is to overcome their awareness of Canada’s unimportance. Their desire to silence SST is reassuring.

  10. Avatar Mathias Alexander says:

    The cure is meant to be worse than the disease.

  11. Avatar JJackson says:

    Thank you Prof. K – A little sanity on SST re SARS-2. I believe you are right about the ability of some governments to be able to explain the science to their population, what effect different behaviors are likely to have and then trust them to understand and behave responsibly for the good of the society as a whole. It is only likely to work in countries where the population are able to understand and trust the science. My country, the UK, and the US have populations that are happy to pick some pseudo science that lets them do what they like.
    Jim – your data show that SARS will kill you if you are old or have a host of other comorbidities and probably not if you are young and fit, which is hardly news, and does not change the situation. As the US, like many developed western countries, has large numbers of old and not very healthy individuals who have contact with low risk groups. If you infect any of them I doubt their love ones will care much if their death certificate says covid or hypertension.
    Re. Children. The Science says they catch and spread SARS and have roughly the same titers as adults. However for reasons that have not become clear yet they suffer very little symptomatic disease dispite often having obvious lung infiltrates by CT scan. Not having symptoms is not the same not spreading disease. The lowest Ct value I know of 13 (low Ct values by q RT PCR = high viral RNA in sample) came from an asymptomatic carry who never developed clinical disease. Current data estimates asymptomatic carriers account for about 20% of cases and peak viral load (i.e. when you are most infectious) occurs the day before you realise you are ill.

  12. Avatar Fred says:

    Mike46,
    This commentor, declared “non-essential” by governor Whitmer, salutes you. Remember, Hilary won the popular vote, but isn’t willing to run for “re” election.
    My condolences to the family of former Prime Minister John Tuner:
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/john-turner-obituary-1.5731229
    Feel free to return now to your ongoing America bashing.

  13. Avatar morongobill says:

    I will say that the professor is very eloquent but does not convince.
    Or as the president might say, he doesn’t close the deal.

  14. Avatar turcopolier says:

    morongobill
    Why does he “not convince?” Is it because you are determined to be unconvinced?

  15. Avatar stueeeeeeeee says:

    Prof K,
    Funny you sound more right wing than you realize. I completely agree with you. Diversity is the reason why we haven’t been able to manage this virus. Diversity is the reason why healthcare, worker’s rights, and other social issues have not been properly addressed, because like you correctly imply homogenous societies (Sweden, China) “have a sense of common purpose and national responsibility”. We have minorities who care little for our laws and are now demanding that the history and traditions that forged the purpose and national identity be destroyed. Frankly, the virus is the least of our problems.
    I would warn your example of Sweden may not pass the test of time. They are being enriched as we speak and the fissures that are developing due to the wonders of diversity may shatter their social democracy experiment. The other example (China) you cite and praise is rather dubious. Is not China’s approach the antithesis to your “case study of collective security through social democracy”? What do you really believe?

  16. Avatar Babak makkinejad says:

    Jim
    I think it is “poppy cock” and not “Bobby Cock”, used by Americans over age 75.
    I think “flim-flam” is even older than that.

  17. Avatar Mike46 says:

    Why does he “not convince?”
    In terms of Covid deaths, France and Germany have done a far better job than Sweden or the UK. And, their economies are not in turmoil as well.

  18. Avatar Mike46 says:

    Fred:
    “This commentor, declared “non-essential” by governor Whitmer,”
    You still hurt by that?

  19. Avatar Deap says:

    Democrats last remaining covid weapon: the spectre of the secret spreader. We are all gonna die, it is everywhere and no one is safe. Elect Joe Biden.
    Pull back the current and find the secret malaise spreader is: Kamala Harris

  20. Avatar Deap says:

    When any old garden variety flu was also known inside the health profession as “the old man’s friend”; how did that flu kill “old people”?

  21. Avatar Mark Logan says:

    My quibble with the prof is his apparent assumption opening society results in everybody going back to what they were doing and the economy is unaffected.
    I cite the current condition of the airlines. They are open for business. Nothing is preventing people from flying..yet they don’t.
    Human behavior in this matter isn’t solely determined by government mandates or recommendations of experts.The good prof seems to think people can be encouraged to ignore their own risk and the risk to their loved ones. He expects people to believe the government and/or experts can and will ‘ensure the most vulnerable are protected’, which is BS. There is too much unknown about this bug and for any new or novel virus.

  22. Avatar walrus says:

    Deap,
    The “old mans friend” is pneumonia, not flu. The treatment as received by my father with our permission, is a butterfly needle and a morphine pump. A quiet and peaceful way to go.

  23. Avatar JohninMK says:

    “When any old garden variety flu was also known inside the health profession as “the old man’s friend”; how did that flu kill “old people”?”
    Deap, here in the UK that phrase refers to pneumonia not flu and is spot on. Unlike flu it is a real ‘silent’ killer of many old people.

  24. Avatar Serge says:

    Very interesting and unique study from the CDC released a couple days ago investigating the case of a woman that infected 15 out of 23 people flying with her in business class from UK to Vietnam back in March:
    https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/11/20-3299_article
    Paper gives an explanation as to why,in the half dozen previous studies of this type, secondary transmissions of this magnitude were not detected.
    I’m as redblooded of a freedom-loving, gun rights exercising and abortion hating american as the next guy, but this inane politicization of the mask question in cases where community transmission is rampant makes zero sense to me. I’ve gone to the gym 5 days a week to life weights with my mask on since June, strenuous exercise, it’s really not that hard and it pisses me off to have to share the room with people that think it is.

  25. Avatar Babak makkinejad says:

    From Cell:
    How we got to COVID-19 (Open Access)
    https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(20)31012-6

  26. Fred Fred says:

    Mark46,
    I’m about half a million ahead, having chosen not to invest with friends in a business in Michigan. They, like thousands of others, are now broke courtesy of the democratic governor.

  27. Avatar Deap says:

    Speaking of Canadians, MSNBC which has a credibility track record of zero now reports: “A suspect who allegedly sent a poison-laced letter to President Donald Trump was taken into custody while trying to enter the United States from Canada.
    The identity of the individual was not revealed, but it was reported the suspect is a Canadian woman.”……..

  28. The Swedish model is definitely worth looking at as a pandemic mitigation strategy. Even though the death rate for Sweden was far higher than her neighbors, close to the rate in the US, it was far lower than some of the dire early predictions. Her economy did take a major hit, but not to the extent of other European countries. However, a key factor in the Swedish model is prohibiting gatherings in excess of 50 people and requiring social distancing measures. That prohibition is strict and enforced through fines and possible imprisonment. Implementing such a model would be far kinder to many small businesses than a total shutdown of “non-essential” businesses who never gather close to 50 people on a good day. Those limits remain in effect in Sweden because they are meant to last for an extended period of time ( living with covid) rather than a more drastic shorter term lockdown meant to eradicate the virus.

  29. Avatar FkDahl says:

    For the record: Sweden now has more % of it’s population foreign born than the US ever had (about 20% vs 15%). Native Swedes will with current trends be a minority in Sweden by 2050.
    What could go wrong with a naive well meaning population meets millions of people without the built-in Lutheran guilt and work ethic? To make it even worse the school and social services field was opened up some 20 years ago to allow private actors, but getting paid from the tax payers. How do you spell fraud in Swedish? Last week the Overton window took a huge shift when the Swedish Police Vice Commisioner (in charge of intelligence) claimed there were some 40 foreign clans in Sweden that had infiltrated the political system and had their clansmen grifting the political and social system for them. Likely the same in social security and police.
    https://spectator.us/sweden-epidemic-clan-based-crime/

  30. Avatar Eliot says:

    Serge,
    “it’s really not that hard and it pisses me off to have to share the room with people that think it is.”
    It violates two fundamental cultural norms.
    Risk tolerance, and imposing yourself on people in a way that is impermissible.
    – Eliot

  31. Avatar gerald says:

    Some actual numbers of death rate vs economic downturn are availablle, see:
    https://ourworldindata.org/covid-health-economy
    selected results:
    Nation …. Covid-19_Deaths/million …. GDP_decline_Q2.2020
    Canada ….. 241.45 …………………………. -13.5%
    Sweden ….. 577.86 ………………………….. -8.3%
    U.S ………… 552.20 ………………………….. -9.5%
    Sweden vs U.S. looks about equal.
    (Sorry if the columns don’t align in the final text)
    -gerald

  32. Avatar JJackson says:

    Re. Old man’s friend. SwasonalFlu does not normally kill even in the elderly, it weakens the bodies defenses allowing a secondary bacterial infection which not all are strong enough to fight of.
    The 1918 flu pandemic and some of the avain flus which cause infections in humans do cause primary pneumonia as do SARS 1 & 2.

  33. Avatar BABAK MAKKINEJAD says:

    FkDahl
    Likewise in Germany, UK, Italy, and France.
    The France of my youth is gone, regrettably – never to be seen again, I am afraid.
    The ethos of Ala Al Din in the One Thousand and One Nights meeting that of Kierkegaard – indeed an interesting experiment.
    We have already seen Descartes discarded in Algeria.

  34. Avatar rho says:

    To expand on the table posted by gerald:
    Nation …. Covid-19_Deaths/million …. GDP_decline_Q2.2020
    Canada ….. 241.45 ………………………-13.5%
    Sweden ….. 577.86 ………………………-8.3%
    U.S ………552.20 ………………………-9.5%
    The large countries in Western Europe have deaths/million that are roughly on par with Sweden and the USA, while their economic declines have been much worse:
    France ……477………………………….-13.8%
    UK ……….619………………………….-20.4%
    Italy……..590………………………….-12.4%
    Spain……..653………………………….-18.5%
    UK was the last major country to lock down, which is why their GDP Q2-2020 crash is the most pronounced compared to Q1-2020 when the UK was still open for most of the quarter.
    The other G8 countries performed much better on both metrics:
    Germany……112………………………….-9.7%
    Japan……..12…………………………..-7.8%
    Russia…….133………………………….-8.5%
    It will be very interesting to see what happens in Sweden in Q3. The daily numbers of new infected in Sweden are stagnant, so there is no need to choke the economy even more with harsher lockdown measures that are being discussed right now in UK, France, Spain and Germany. That is the real benefit of the Swedish model, which will only become apparent in the next few months.

  35. Avatar Eliot says:

    Rho,
    “It will be very interesting to see what happens in Sweden in Q3. The daily numbers of new infected in Sweden are stagnant, so there is no need to choke the economy even more with harsher lockdown measures that are being discussed right now in UK, France, Spain and Germany. That is the real benefit of the Swedish model, which will only become apparent in the next few months.”
    I suspect the restrictions simply extend the length of the epidemic, without reducing the number of deaths.
    Deaths occur more slowly, but the overall total remains the same.
    We can not contain the virus, and we can not perfectly protect people. Everyone will be exposed, at some point, and there are finite number of individuals, who are vulnerable to the virus, and who will die if they contract it, due to their underlying health issues.
    If this is true, then the Swedish model is a vastly better option.
    – Eliot

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