Corona – Sweden Anomaly or not…? It’s all about the slopes…!

[UPDATE 2020-03-25 : A couple of  interesting pieces, {article article2} about “The Swedish Way to deal with Corona”, where among others German scientists state that the swedish way is an optimal model for how to deal with Corona in order to minimize total amount of damage on society]

So, on popular demand, here’s the graphs from my previous post , now with numbers relative to population size.

Btw, I find it quite rewarding to receive comments on various social media on my posts – thank you! – including those commentators, some with cool prefixes, such as PhD etc, that apparently have some trouble interpreting graphs… 🙂 let me just throw a bone here and say: “It’s all about the slopes!” 🙂

Which btw reminds me of this great little anecdote, featuring Marylyn vos Savant and a huge number of people with high academic credentials… 🙂

Anyways, back to business, and for the benefit of readers who didn’t read my previous post, the title of it was:

Corona – Sweden, The Anomaly: pure luck or are we doing something right…?

Here’s the graph on number of confirmed cases, now relative to population size (per million habitants):


So what do we actually see here…? All of sudden, Sweden is much higher up on the chart than before. In absolute numbers, as on the previous graph, Sweden was at the bottom, now, on this graph, almost at the top. Whoa…! 

However, what is more interesting – at least to me – is the slope, not necessarily the actual starting position, or even the current position on the curve:

if I’d put small “countries” like San Marino, Holy See, or even Iceland or Luxembourg on this chart, they would blow the y-scale, because they each have very small population, and a handful of confirmed cases (as we speak, Holy See has 4 confirmed, resulting in almost 5000 confirmed per million,  San Marino have 187 confirmed, with 5500 per million, and Iceland has 648 cases with 1500 per million!)

So, the absolute numbers do not tell the whole story, nor do the relative numbers – Nope: it’s all about the slope! 

Why…? Because the slope tells us the rate of growth, and that’s what’s really interesting, that everybody should be concerned with, because the rate of growth tells us what tomorrow most likely will look like, and the day after that, and the day after that…

Of course, if the (absolute) number of infected needing ICU-care exceeds the (absolute) capacity of the country to provide such care, then that country will be in deep shit, regardless of any slope, but we are not quite there quite yet, and, if we manage to keep the growth rate – that is, the slope – under control, we will not have to go there at all.

Looking at the slopes for the different countries, we can see that Sweden has performed quite well, relatively speaking, compared to the other countries, when it comes to keeping the growth under control (again, remember though that I’m very doubtful about the official numbers on confirmed, since testing is limited).

What about deceased ?


Also here, Sweden has raisen on the chart, from “rock bottom” to the middle.  However, the slope is now not very different from the others, perhaps slightly better than Germany and US, but in parity with UK and almost even with Italy, when they were at the same point in time.  The next few days will tell which way we will go.

The growth factor for confirmed:


Phew..! What a relief – the growth factor shape hasn’t changed, despite us now looking at relative asop to absolute numbers – Sweden is still low on this chart.

Growth factor of deceased:


Same pattern as in the corresponding graph with absolute numbers… as to be expected.

Since the growth graphs are very cluttered, let’s reduce the clutter by looking at slightly fewer countries:

growth factor confirmed first:


Growth factor deceased:



Summary: I don’t know about you, but to me, Sweden is still, even when looking at relative to population numbers, an anomaly: given that Sweden, at least for now, have almost no formal, mandatory restrictions on how people should act – restaurants, shops and ski slopes still open, public transportation running more or less as normally etc –  I’d expect that the growth factors for both infected and deceased would look more like those for the other countries. But they don’t. And I can’t explain why that is so.

Someone on LinkedIn, Fabio (?) – comment much appreciated! – pointed out that population density might be a factor, and without having given it much thought, I think that’s a likely factor – even Stockholm is, compared to the Metropolis’s of the world, a very sparesely populated place, and the rest of the country is pretty much deserted anyway, compared to other countries. Furthermore, we tend to keep some physical distance to others, even during normal circumstances (except the young & hip, who all now cheek-kiss & hug each other, since that’s what the cool peoples on the continent do… 🙂

Anyways – only time will tell how this plays out. Those of us who survive the epidemic will eventually know…: Prediction is difficult, particularily about the future!  🙂



About swdevperestroika

High tech industry veteran, avid hacker reluctantly transformed to mgmt consultant.
This entry was posted in Culture, Data Analytics, Epidemics, Organization, Probability, Research, Society, Statistics, Sverige and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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