• Jun Park

Sweden - Cost Benefit Analysis Broken

There has been a lot of chatter about Sweden, the country that until today did not have mandatory lock-downs throughout the country. While their neighboring countries closed down borders, shut down schools and commerce, Sweden did not. Although they did take social-distancing measures, promote teleworking, among other measures, it never went on full lockdown nor did it make businesses close down.

The reasoning behind is has taken center-stage as the economic downturn for every country in the world deepens. Sweden, being the only developed country without quarantine, could in fact, prove that quarantines and shutdowns, will have all been for nothing, as was the headline in the Telegraph.

They have stated that their purpose was not to achieve 'herd immunity', but rather that they took a different approach which they expect the same results over time. In fact, Sweden leaving its economy open, is betting that after the pandemic that loss of life will be the same, but the economic impact will be less.

Scientists in Sweden disagree as reported by Forbes where 22 scientists stated that the Swedish strategy had failed as the numbers compared with their neighbors had such large disparity. The Swedish strategy for Covid-19 has a cost/benefit analysis that is broken.

The analysis:

Cost: Sweden has a higher initial mortality rate, real losses both in life and the economic production of the lives lost, effective today versus the possible benefit that the the course of the virus will have the same mortality rate everywhere and have higher economic losses due to quarantines over time.

If those are the governing principles, the cost is too high for a possibility.

Additionally, the numbers suggest different, and even scientists disagree.

Currently, a paper in preprint stage (not yet peer-reviewed) is already showing clear signs that the non-pharmaceutical measures (such as quarantine, social-distancing, and lockdowns) are directly correlated to the loss of life.

The paper states the following conclusions:

The critical care demand is estimated to peak just above 16,000 patients per day by early May in the unmitigated scenario, while isolation of elderly and intermediate social distancing can reduce it to around 5000-9000 per day peaking in June. These peaks exceed the normal critical care capacity in Sweden at 526 beds by an order of magnitude.

Healthcare demand in Sweden and mortality in Sweden in response to non-pharmaceutical (NPIs) mitigation and suppression scenarios

While time will tell what the real impact of this pandemic, but in today's world, we need to value life above all, and not take unnecessary risks were the cost is life.

BUT, if you need the economic reasoning, why not this one:

The global economy is collapsing and a restructuring is in order, people's lives and jobs are now different, everywhere. The economy is an accumulation of the production of the living. In the face of this mortal disease, the loss of life means an insurmountable potential economic gain from loss of talent.