Covid-19 second wave proves Swedish approach was better

Sweden got a lot of bad press for adopting somehow relaxed approach to Covid-19 lock down. There were voices it caused a carnage especially among elderly people. Figures below show so far Sweden escapes 2nd wave of Covid-19, so maybe what they do is worth investigating.

ECDC data set used it this analysis gives number of deaths on daily basis. Since the number fluctuates quite a lot we calculate a moving average (MA) to eliminate some noise, I use 7 days MA. Figure below shows daily deaths 7 days MA for selected EU countries. We can see 2 peak structure corresponding to 1st and 2nd wave of disease.

Once we have MA we can find a maximum for value for each country and sort it top down thus creating a country ranking. On chart legend ranking is shown in brackets next to country name.

No 2nd wave in Sweden?

Figure below shows same countries from Sep 10th. We see daily deaths are gradually growing for all countries but Sweden. Worst situation is in Czechia, where daily deaths growth is accelerating quite rapidly. Please note Czechia daily deaths now significantly exceed its first wave values, same applies for Poland. Both countries implemented lock down during 1st wave, it seems it only delayed outbreak.

Comparing 1st and 2nd wave

In order to visually compare 1st and 2nd wave 1st wave data for reference country are moved forward along time axis by number of days indicated in chart legend.

So far no country is close to the dynamics of 1st wave of Covid-19 in Belgium. Even Czechia development much less aggressive than it used to be in Belgium.

Current Czechia situation looks similar to 1st wave development in Netherlands.


  1. Swedish approach to Covid-19 resulted in slower drop of daily deaths but no 2nd wave pick up is visible so far.
  2. Belgium mandated face masks in all public spaces while Netherlands not, yet the former has currently higher Covid-19 death rate than the latter. Masks may have some impact on the virus transmission reduction, but they don’t do magic to stop it.
  3. In terms of daily deaths growth 2nd wave is less violent than 1st one.
  4. Countries with low death rates during 1st wave (Czechia, Poland) set new highs during 2nd wave. First lock down did not prevent outbreak, just delayed it.
  5. Swedish approach to epidemic – no lock down but elevated hygiene standards and limits on mass gatherings seem to work better.
  6. Lock downs have a bang in media, but results achieved so far do not justify significant economic burden incurred.
  7. In EU normal daily death rate is around 30 per 1 million. Covid-19 deaths in none of investigated countries are close to that figure.
  8. Covid-19 is likely to stay with us like many other diseases. Subsequent outbreaks are likely to be less severe. it will not kill all, just some. Bad response plans with expedited mass implementation and huge cost may do more harm to everyone than the virus, so watch your politicians.

1 thought on “Covid-19 second wave proves Swedish approach was better

  1. Karol

    Unfortunately up-to-date mortality rates are much less favourable for Sweden (As per this article f.ex.:

    In my opinion it’s yet too early to be too conclusive basing on the current mortality rates.
    It may change within a week or two.

    A very important factor – which actually I like a lot – of so called “Swedish model” is consequence. In Poland we had very restrictive Spring, but in the Summer most of the Poles had behaved as if the pandemia was over.

    Let’s observe. By the spring we should know, I guess. I do keep my fingers crossed that the less restrictive approach turns out to be more effective. However, it’s too early to decide yet.


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