That’s been a pretty consistent rallying cry from anti-mask/anti-lockdown Americans. According to their argument, Sweden has not locked down (though they have adopted some mitigation measures, but don’t tell that to the Deniers) and have been able to keep COVID-19 in check. For the most part, that part appears to be panning out for the Scandinavian country. (Compared to their neighbors, Sweden’s number are drastically worse. Context matters.)
Implicit in the “But Sweden!” argument lies the assumption that if it worked there, of course it would work in the United States. But that’s not necessarily true. The citizens of the two countries have vastly different health profiles. As a result, the severity of infections would likely differ. Let’s take a quick look at the differences.
(NOTE: Just to review, obesity, pre-existing conditions, and age are considered risk factors that may lead to more severe symptoms.)
So let’s start with the basics. Both countries are affluent, developed countries. No surprises here.
Life expectancies are okay, though women in the U.S. are worse off then men.
Heart disease, Alzheimer’s, stroke, and lung cancer are all Top 4 causes of death in both countries.
Cause of premature deaths also match up pretty evenly.
Now this is where the two countries begin to diverge. (Opioid crisis in full view here.)
And now we’ve reached the point where it’s clear that there is a considerable difference between the two countries. On average, Americans are significantly heavier (being polite here). That does not bode well for COVID-19 patients.
Just to drive home the differences between the two countries we offer the following charts that compare them to their peers. Notice the sea of red in the American charts.
And more red.
In conclusion, the “But Sweden!” argument is not a particularly good one. We do consider this issue resolved.
DATA AND CHART SOURCES: http://www.healthdata.org