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

[UPDATE 2020-03-25: for numbers relative to population sizes, see here. And here is a great illustration of what I believe is the Swedish strategy for dealing with Corona]

Sweden is, at least for time being, an anomaly in the Corona dataset: despite being one of the few countries hit by Corona with almost no enforced restrictions on daily life – for instance, almost all restaurants, bars, shops, public transportation etc are still mostly open/operating – neither the number of confirmed cases (which could be due to limited testing) nor the number of deaths (which should be more trustworthy) have escalated towards the levels of comparable countries.

[All graphs below take their starting point when the number of confirmed cases for that country exceeds 500]

Let’s look at the number of confirmed cases for a few countries:



Sweden is now 12 days past the point where it hit 500 confirmed cases, and yet, the total number of cases is (as of yesterday) 2046.  We can contrast that to the UK, who’s only 10 days past 500, but are already at 6600 as of yesterday.  Now, as I’ve explained in previous posts, the number of confirmed cases is not a very good number to use in analysis, since it depends totally on how much testing is done, and we know that Sweden since almost two weeks only test those in critical condition.

But the number of deceased should not suffer from that selection bias, so let’s take a look at those numbers:



Also here we can see that Sweden is very low, compared to the other countries,  with 27 deceased (as of yesterday), compared with, for instance, again with UK, with 335.

Let’s look at the growth factors for confirmed and deceased, respectively:

Growth factor confirmed:


Wrt Sweden, it’s still too early in the process to state a definitive trend, but it sure looks like the growth factor now, by day 13, is heading down, from an already low level, compared to the others.

Also great to see that Italy now definitely are on the right track, their growth factor is consistently decreasing towards single digit numbers – hopefully their plot reaches that of South Korea very soon, meaning that there’s no more growth.

Growth Factor deceased:


Here, the trend is somewhat more uncertain, but overall, it looks like it’s going down. Also here it’s great to see that Italy seem to have managed to reduce the growth of the number of deceased.


Sweden is an anomaly: despite life going on almost as normally, the numbers show that thus far, the country has not been hit very hard by Corona. Either it’s pure luck, and in the coming weeks things will get very much worse, or then, Sweden and the swedes are doing something right.  I don’t know.

It will be interesting to see future research on this, when this pandemic finally is over and done with.

A final note: One could argue that since the population of Sweden is only 10M, the number on infected and deaths are going to be fairly low, compared to countries with larger populations. So next, I’ll normalize the data by population, and let’s then see if the anomaly still stands. Until next time!



About swdevperestroika

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

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

  1. Joe Marasco says:

    Normalization for the population is essential. Comparing Sweden to India is likely going to yield strange results. Per capita numbers worldwide, China, US, Italy, Russia, Sweden, and India could be very revealing. The Russian anomaly is particularly interesting. By the way, do we know how many passengers and crew, in total, were on the Diamond Princess? And, of those, how many were ultimately tested?

  2. Haven’t found info on Diamond Princess, unfortunately. Per Capita graphs coming up shortly

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s