This is a great posting that’s going viral on Twitter as we speak, about the Swedish Corona experience, written by a Guest Blogger, twitter handle @HaraldofW a person who’s deep insights and great analytic skills I’ve come to appreciate over the past few weeks. If you are at all interested in Corona, and you are on Twitter, I’d strongly recommend you to follow @HaraldofW.
(A note on the stylistics & structure of the post : this blog post has been concatenated together basically by cut & paste of the 25 (!) individual Twitter posts comprising the entire message, so stylistically, it might appear a bit weird, due to the Blog Master’s bad cut & paste skills… 🙂
Over to @Harald and his post:
Corona and All Cause Deaths in Sweden
Third comprehensive thread compiling my graphs, but where did it begin? Does anyone remember when stores were all out of toilet paper & #covid19 panic started to build? At that point I wanted to put things into perspective quite like @InProportion2 has done with UK.
But first a few words on Sweden
We are a country with most of its inhabitants living in Stockholm and south of Stockholm. The north is not as densely populated as Stockholm has 5200 inhabitants per square km, Gothenburg at 1300 inhabitants per square km and Malmö at 2200 individuals per square km.
Sweden’s population grew with ca 16 percent since year 2000. Ca 20 percent of people living in Sweden are born abroad. Largest immigrant population is 1) Syrians and 2) Iraqi and 3) Finnish people. In Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö some 20-25 percent are born abroad. Google ‘people that travel the most’ and you will find Sweden right at the top of most lists. The idea of who we are and the nature of our reality might not always be the same. Reality is more complex. Now back to #covid19 and my comparison of Sweden to… Sweden.
As shown, reality proved different than projections, but it was partly those projections that informed our response. Early on I stumbled upon @JenniferWegerup which provided data on Italy regarding for example age distribution which – as can be seen – is similar to the Swedish distribution of covid19 deaths.
Wegerups presentations showed that deaths primarily occurred in elderly and people with comorbidities. Now this should tell us something in contrast to the narrative of everyone at great risk.
We can also look at week 16-26 in order to see the distribution even more pronounced since covid19 first made its mark in March of 2020.
with ca 89 percent of covid19 deaths in age group above 70 and more than twice as many above 90 years old as under 70 years old we see that #covid19 is greater risk to elderly than the working & school population.
But further we see that within the age group 70+ almost half of individuals deceased have been care home residents and additional ca 20 percent of age group 70+ receiving home care service. This means that within a small percentage of the population we have more than half of #covid19 deaths.
According to a study, half of the individuals moving in to care homes only lived there two years before dying. It’s already a quite fragile population. But perhaps also individuals who need human connection and not distancing during this pandemic, next chart shows age 70+ and distribution between population in care home and non care home individuals.
As mentioned in the beginning, I wanted to gain some perspective. For this reason I compared deaths all causes in different ways. As can be seen in this chart trend is slightly downwards but year 2019 was very low. Actually, 2019 had fewest deaths since 1977.
I asked myself, in the longer perspective do we see what could be seen in 1919? Or how would it compare with deaths all causes during Hong Kong flu or Asian flu?
Events around Asian Flu and Hong Kong Flu are events that my mother don’t remember in any apocalyptic manner.
But that was some time ago, so what does it look like in more recent history. Comparing period 1990-2020 deaths all causes we first look at October through June.
Next we look at comparison January through June. We should also keep in mind what message was broadcasted in February, so as to remember the context.
In this graph we look at comparison january through June but stratified using age (only week 1-22) but message the same.
When looking at March through June and individual months we we that April is one of the months with highest mortality since 1990 but still not unprecedented. Although one could argue that we have as of late been accustomed to a different reality.
We can also experiment with expected deaths based on average and trend. First looking at average it would look like this.
And then looking at trend it would look like this, hence not a lot above average but breaking with downward trend.
What has been apparent is how the impact have had different severity in different regions, here comparing, Stockholm, Skåne & Västra Götaland. And we see that Stockholm has ca 43 percent of all #covid19 deaths. Skåne, neighbouring with Denmark, has few deaths.
This does not mean other regions have no spread of virus, seroprevalence shows they had spread as well, although less than Stockholm but Skåne has seen no higher mortality than previous year, Stockholm has higher mortality as can be seen in next chart.
But we can also see that #covid19 deaths are declining in all three compared regions.
Back to the whole country, when comparing excess deaths as the difference to prior 5 year average last ca 100 years would look like this (all of Sweden), one has to understand the numbers and context behind the charts.
As can be seen in next chart, peak covid19 deaths at week 15 and now declining back to normal levels (slightly above) regarding #covid19 & deaths all causes.
And whatever we collectively do in the future, let’s not go strict lockdown as some countries have done putting the whole world through this ordeal at high costs, not only purely economical costs.
End of Harald’s post.
Many thanks Harald for contributing this very insightful and important post to the blog. Those that still believe that Covid-19 is the Bubolic Plague of our times, can hopefully benefit from even more information about Corona in Sweden, here.