Contagion of Mind: Swedish vs Czech COVID Approach

With the new year slowly starting, the entire world hopes that it will be a better one than the previous. Everyone is tired of lock downs, masks, stock market volatility, not being able to travel, missing their loved ones. A beacon of hope in 2020 has always been Sweden which was running a different approach to containing the virus through Herd Immunity and Civic duty approach. This practically means that the government restricts only the minimum civic rights and mostly only recommends how to behave. This approach has been widely contested both within and outside of Sweden. What were the results of such an approach?

Albeit Sweden has been running the very same approach from the very beginning and only recently started imposing distance education for high schools, the overall effect measured by the number of deaths per 1 million is positive when compared with the Czech mortality rates (Sweden and Czechia have approximately the same population size). Sweden even fairs relatively well when compared to other Europe countries.

At first glance it seems that no COVID restrictions are needed since the Swedish approach produces better results. On the other hand, the negative unemployment impact of COVID on Sweden was much higher than in Europe overall. Furthermore what also potentially contributes to a lower virus spread factor is a very low population density of Sweden per 1 square kilometer.

Overall, although the results whether the Swedish experiment worked are inconclusive, one key element must be learned from the Swedish approach, that being that relying on someone else, on some saviour, on the government, neither letting everyone be seems to reap the desired outcomes. Hence, based on data the most efficient approach seems to be the mix of the two. In other words:

  1. CIVIC DUTY: taking seriously Civic duty of protecting oneself and the others by wearing a mask, staying at home when not feeling well, reporting to your friends when being in contact with an infected person to help them.
  2. PROTECTING VULNERABLE GROUPS: protecting with mandatory restrictions and compensations vulnerable groups of seniors, minors and ill people. Additionally clearly defining who is a vulnerable group and who isn’t.
  3. CONTINUOUS SYSTEM RISK TESTING: similar to the financial sector keep conducting continuous stress of both the economy, energy, utilities, health system
  4. SYSTEM EDUCATION: provide education from early stages about the notion that we all live in an interconnected system and that our actions affect the other in order to put a spotlight on selfishness
  5. DATA DRIVEN DECISIONS: base decisions on clearly communicated data to avoid politically driven decisions

It is mainly on us all to overcome this crisis. Neither any super application, neither a Vaccine, neither a super government will reach this goal. Only sane, respectful, data driven and educated approach can take us away from our current state of Contagion of Mind.

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