Great Britain

Why are we continuing to ignore the Swede smell of Covid success?

LET’S have a moment of blunt honesty: There is little doubt we are about to enter the most brutal winter this country has faced since World War Two.

We’re staring down a second wave of coronavirus, mass unemployment causing unprecedented poverty, a growing cancer emergency, a mental health epidemic and social disharmony thanks to a largely unnecessary lockdown.

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There is very little for many of us to look forward to, given the prospect of getting an immediately successful vaccine by year end grows ever more unlikely.

The Government’s worst- case scenario — published by The Spectator — imagines deaths peaking in February, with draconian lockdowns continuing through to the end of March.

With that bleak picture in mind, it’s absolutely crucial we look to countries that have been relative success stories during this pandemic.

As one of the most isolated and sparsely populated Western societies in the world, my homeland of New Zealand has followed a much-heralded but long-term unrealistic elimination strategy, seeing life return to normal but with the cost of zero immunity and a closed border for many years.

Scotland proved over the summer that such a utopian approach is futile here.

South Korea and China were able to suppress the virus with totalitarian measures not suited to freedom-loving Brits fundamentally opposed to being tracked and told what to do by the state at all times.

Our Nordic neighbours in Sweden took an alternative route.

The country avoided a full lockdown, relying on largely voluntary social distancing measures without shutting down the economy, closing schools or making masks mandatory.

They certainly didn’t “let the virus rip”, as critics like to suggest to try and deride the strategy, but Sweden’s new normal allowed a sensible space for work and life to go on with a hearty dose of precautionary behaviour.

Now eight months have passed, has the Swedish method worked?

Data released by John Hopkins University on daily deaths from Covid over the last two weeks shows fatalities in Italy rising by 271 per cent, Germany up by 190 per cent and the UK by a concerning 177 per cent.

Sweden, by contrast, has DROPPED by 16 per cent.

In fact, it has been 94 days since the nation reduced Covid deaths to an average of just two a day.

Even Swedes aged over 70 have now been told by their heroic state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell that they can “live a bit more of a ­normal life”, having previously been advised to shield while the rest of the country builds a degree of natural immunity.

It’s not over yet, of course.

Just like every country, Sweden faces a potential second wave, with daily cases on the rise over the past fortnight.

But the government there believes the voluntary nature of restrictions will create long-term compliance.

Because they decided to avoid lockdown in the early days of the crisis without protecting vulnerable care homes, the country’s death rate from Covid of 585 per million is relatively high — although still lower than our rate of 667 per million.

That said, it’s likely Sweden will avoid many of the excess deaths that are now proven to come from shutting down a country.

I’m fed up with lockdown zealots who love to do down Brits by insisting there’s no way we can be trusted to follow our common sense and think of wider societal concerns when making personal decisions.

That’s utter codswallop.


Just look at how we have completely changed the way we’ve lived over the past eight months, proving we will make previously unthinkable sacrifices for the common good.

But without trust from the Government and officials, I believe public compliance will fray, especially at Christmas time.

Why do our decision makers and much of the media continue to find excuses to ignore Sweden’s success?

When it comes to corona, we have far more in common with Sweden than we do with New Zealand or China, so let’s start an honest dialogue about what we can adopt.

In the long-term, perhaps we will discover Sweden’s greatest export to the world is no longer ABBA but a sensible alternative path to learning to live with this damn virus.

Andy's deluded

MICHAEL Barrymore is the most popular host on British television once again.

The BBC signs David Starkey to host a new primetime history series.

And Prince Andrew returns to public life as a respected senior member of the Royal Family.

Any sane person knows this alternative reality is about as likely as Tony Blair becoming Prime Minister again.

Well, anyone apart from the Duke of York himself.

The delusion of the Queen’s shamed son knows no bounds, as he plots his professional comeback before bothering to clear his name in the Jeffrey Epstein/Ghislaine Maxwell scandal.

There is a very narrow path Randy Andy can tread if he has any hope of successfully working again: Co-operate fully with the FBI by travelling to New York for a face-to-face interview and committing to spend as much time as needed to assist the investigation.

If he continues to fail to do that, he’s finished.

Harry and Meghan know just what we need

NOTE new YouGov polling this week shows Prince Andrew is the only senior royal now less popular than Prince Harry and Meghan, who have seen their approval ratings plummet by 19 and 18 per cent respectively since Megxit.

Funny. I thought the British public would have appreciated a constant stream of woke Zoom sessions recorded in their multi-million pound Californian mansion as we suffer through a historic pandemic.

Wootton's week

Can't put Price on pleasure

I CAN’T help but admire the pluck of Katie Price, a celebrity who doesn’t give a fig what ­anyone thinks of her as long as she’s having fun.

That was more evident than usual this week as she Skyped into her bankruptcy court ­hearing, having just jumped off a jet-ski during a luxury holiday in the Maldives with her latest toyboy.

And it was all ­conveniently captured by a passing paparazzi photographer.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we must put achievable pleasure ahead of almost anything.

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