SWEDEN : The Pandemic is over, but when did it actually disappear…?

Judging by media (traditional or social, doesn’t matter), the Pandemic is over. Nevertheless, the authorities are still pushing for people to get their boosters, despite clear evidence by now that the boosters do nothing to prevent the virus from spreading – just this morning, I saw in the news that even former President Obama has now gotten the bug, despite boosters and access to probably the best medical care in the world… But I guess even the authorities will soon give up, if for no other reason, for new, more severe problems around the corner…

Since a few weeks, the news cycle is busy with the Ukraine Crisis, and rightfully so : asop to the Pandemic, the Ukraine Crisis is a true existential risk, not only for the Ukrainians, but potentially for the entire global civilization. In case you doubt this state of affairs, you might want to have a look at the various posts on Ukraine I’ve posted on this blog before, e.g. this one where Samo Burja of Bismarck Analysis explains the RealPolitik of the crisis, and Nate Hagens explains the economical and energy implications of the crisis.

Anyhow, let’s look at the only meaningful metrics to determine whether we still have a Pandemic in Sweden or not : all cause deaths, and all cause ICU occupancy. In order to illustrate why the Covid-specific numbers are meaningless, let’s start by looking at a timeline of Covid-“Cases”, “Covid-ICUs”, and “Covid_Deaths”:

Covid Events Timeline

From above graph, we can see that Covid “cases” literally exploded past December – January, the earlier peaks are almost flat compared to the case count at end of 2021-early 2022. This is astonishing, since the proportion fully vaccinated people is more than 80%, i.e. well above the requirements for “herd immunity”. What does this tell us about “vaccine efficiency”… ?

We can also notice that Covid-ICU’s as well as Covid-Deaths increased during the same period, so one could argue that by January 2022, the Pandemic was far from over.

Yet, Sweden decided to remove (most) restrictions on Feb 9:th. How come…? Looking at the above graph, it sure looks like Covid was very much live and well, and at least according to media, Covid *is* a very deadly disease…. So how can it make sense to remove restrictions in the middle of a huge case peak…?

The answer is that we get a totally different picture if we look at all cause deaths, and all cause ICU occupancy. Let’s look at Observed vs Expected All Cause Deaths, for the period of March 2020 to date, and superimpose the Covid-Deaths on the same graph:

From the above graph, we can see that of the 24 months since start of the Pandemic, Sweden had excess deaths during six of them, with only three or four of those six months with significant excess, April 2020 and December 2020 were particularly bad.

But during 18 of 24 months of the Pandemic Sweden had a death deficit, i.e. fewer deaths than expected, despite the “lethal” pandemic, despite.

“Oh, it’s the vaccines!” you might say…

Nope : first of all, if the vaccines were responsible for the low mortality, then how do you explain the (relatively) high number of Covid-deaths (not to mention “cases”) in Jan and Feb 2022, when 85% of the population is fully vaccinated…? Furthermore, how do you explain that Covid Deaths (as well as All Cause Deaths) dropped already by early Feb 2021, when about 1 % of the population were fully vaccinated….?

So, if it wasn’t the vaccines, something different must be going on, capable of explaining the peaks and troffs of the deaths and ICU’s.

For example : what could possibly explain the extremely high number of deaths in April 2020…? Of course, a new (?) virus turns up, into a society that was totally unprepared to meet *any* kind of crisis, where health care since several decades was far from adequately dimensioned to cope with any additional stress, and where our elderly were treated as cattle in the modern care homes. All in order to cut costs, despite Sweden having one of the world’s highest taxation rates.

But there’s an other explanation for the high death toll in April 2020 : have a look at the below graph, showing a timeline from 2015 –> over monthly observed vs expected deaths:

Observed vs Expected deaths, 2015 –>

First, notice that deaths in Sweden are highly seasonal, most deaths occur during the winter. Secondly, observe how observed and expected deaths normally interplay : some months have a small amount of excess, other months have a similar amount of death deficit.

Then, April 2020 arrives, with a huge peak in deaths, followed by a smaller but still significant peak in May. A clear sign of the pandemic having arrived.

But there’s something else, equally important to observe in the graph… can you see it….?

No…?

Look at the months preceding the Pandemic… what do you see…?

Perhaps I should help you by placing a couple of annotations on the graph:

Before the Pandemic struck, Sweden had had 20 consecutive months of lower than expected number of deaths, i.e. a death deficit.

In fact, counting mortality on a yearly basis, 2019 was a year with the lowest mortality ever!

A perhaps better illustration of what occurred before, during and after the Pandemic is given by the graph below:

So, after 20 consecutive months of deaths lower than normal, what do you think is likely to happen when a new (?) virus turns up…? IMO, the answer is clearly visible in the graph above.

Furthermore, by looking at the above graph, it’s IMO opinion reasonable to argue that the Pandemic ended already Feb 2021, that is, Sweden spent a whole year after the end of the Pandemic keeping the very harmful restrictions.

So, by looking at all cause deaths, we can argue that the Pandemic ended already Feb 2021, not Feb 2022, when restrictions were finally removed, or when the world’s focus turned onto something else, that is, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

But of course, deaths is only one consequence of a Pandemic. There are other negative outcomes associated with it, so let’s look at the ICU’s : after all, even if you don’t die of the virus, you wouldn’t want to become so ill that you need ICU care either.

Below a weekly timeline of ICU occupancy, combined with Covid “Variants of Concerns” – after all, you do recall, don’t you, how lethal first the DELTA and later the OMICRON variant was supposed to be…?

Since early summer of 2021, ICU occupancy has been quite normal, despite the arrival of the dreaded DELTA and OMICRON variants.

So, by this metric, ICU occupancy, the Pandemic disappeared by June 2021, some 8 months before the restrictions were finally removed.

Finally, let’s look at the impact of “Variants of Concern” vs. all cause deaths:

How many of those weeks from Feb 2021 to date do you see excess deaths….?

Summary

Covid in Sweden ended either February 9:th 2022, when the restrictions were removed, or by end of February 2022, when Putin invaded Ukraine, or already Feb 2021, if we base our analysis on all cause deaths, or by June 2021, if we base our analysis on ICU’s. And should we base our decision on what our Public Health Authority, “Folkhälsomyndigheten” said as late as today, “The Pandemic is far from over – get your boosters!”, then we should conclude that we are not at the end, we are not even at the beginning of the end… but maybe at the end of the beginning….

Pick your favorite.

About swdevperestroika

High tech industry veteran, avid hacker reluctantly transformed to mgmt consultant.
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2 Responses to SWEDEN : The Pandemic is over, but when did it actually disappear…?

  1. Agnes Wold. Professor of Microbiology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden says:

    You can expect a drop in mortality already when 1% were vaccinated, because we followed a strict priority based vaccination plan, starting with those in the elderly homes. These have accounted for 50% of the deaths in covid. Then people over 80 were vaccinated, people over 70, and so forth. People >70 have accounted for 93% of the causes of covid death in Sweden. There was a shortage of vaccine during the entire spring term 2021, but 60+ were vaccinated before summer. As transmission was reduced by approaching summer, also ICU cases decreased. You can clearly see the effect of the vaccine on mortality already from Feb 1, while there was not yet any drop in hospitalization or ICU cases by then, as the oldest WHO live in nursing homes are generally not sent to ICU

  2. Agnes Wold says:

    70,000 people live in nursing homes in Sweden, which is 0.7% of the population. When 90% of them were vaccinated, 0.6% of the population was vaccinated, but these 0.6% were the ones that, in the previous two waves comprised 50% of the cases of death

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