How Not To Handle A Pandemic (Sweden Under a Microscope)

Comparing 4 Countries With the Same Population and Covid-19

May 2, 2020 (original post)

This is from my Coronavirus Archives page published May 2, 2020

Scroll to the bottom for updated statistics as of June 28, 2020 to see the new numbers / trend.

I thought it would make an interesting analysis to take 4 different countries with virtually identical populations (10 million) and evaluate the Covid-19 statistics for all 4. I chose Sweden, Portugal, Chechia and Greece.

Sweden has come under fire recently since they have a very high mortality rate (over 2,400 people). They never had a lockdown, instead counting on its citizenry to make the right decisions. It is painfully obvious this has not worked out well.

Sweden took a substantially different approach to this pandemic.  Their government stubbornly refused to impose strict guidelines and / or lockdown legislation.  The citizens have been allowed to largely continue as if nothing has changed and work / travel at will.  Early on in the pandemic, it appeared Sweden may have made the right, if controversial choice, as the virus decimated Italy, Spain, France and Britain.  However…  As time has progressed and the virus marched on unabated through Sweden, the death rate has soared.  When I first analyzed this approach on May 2nd, 2020, the death toll was over 2,400 people, which equals a 12.26% mortality rate.  This is one of the highest rates worldwide.  Belgium holds the lead with over 16% mortality, followed by France, Italy, UK and The Netherlands before getting to Sweden in the #6 position.

What sets Sweden apart?

The primary goal has been sustainability.  At the expense of many lives.

The government requested citizens to take individual responsibility in terms of social distancing.  They also suggested the elderly and anyone feeling ill remain at home.  The streets of Stockholm have remained bustling, with hairdressers and other services, primary schools, shops, cafes, nightclubs and restaurants open for business as usual.

The result?  The highest per capita death toll in Europe.


In the beginning, Portugal had a slightly higher case count (.25% of their population compared to .21% for Sweden) but Portugal has only 973 deaths (3.97% of the total cases) compared to Sweden with 2,462 deaths (12.13% of the total cases).  In the last month that has changed with Sweden taking the top spot out of the 4 countries compared.

For reference, the U.S. had a 5.84% mortality index at the time this was originally published.

The interactive spreadsheet on the Coronavirus Blog has 3 tabs. The 3rd tab is labeled “10 Million”. This has all the numbers for both cases and deaths for all 4 countries as of May 2. Below the statistics are a graph for cases over time and deaths over time.  The first tab in the spreadsheet contains all the cases and deaths since they were first recorded.

I think you will find this very educational.

This is a message from a lady named Liz whose daughter in an MD in Sweden:

Because I invariably am asked by friends and family who know my daughter is a physician in Sweden to explain the news that is reported here about their Covid-19 response.

Here is the latest:

It is being reported here that Sweden’s death toll is among the highest-40 deaths/100,000 people. This is TRUE.

The Swedish government has recently opened an investigation into this number.

Here are some details:

The majority of the deaths have come from their nursing home population but to understand better you need to understand certain facts:


  1. Seniors in elderly homes are generally seriously ill, as in hospice. Elderly people in Sweden stay home with in-home support ONLY are in nursing homes at end stage of life and typically pass away within 1-2 years of entering a facility. It is more a medical facility than a “living” facility. Keeping their elderly residents in their own homes in of highest priority.
  2. Also, the philosophy in Sweden about end of life is very different and medical decisions to prolong life are varied and generally once an elderly citizen enters a nursing home they are generally DNR.
  3. Limiting exposure to Covid-19 is best case scenario hence the investigation. They may have not done this soon enough.

The general feeling in Sweden is their “moderate lock down” approach has been successful but they are investigating the response to limiting access to the nursing homes and the elderly sooner.


Here are some important numbers:

May 2, 2020 Statistics:


Total Covid-19 Cases May 2, 2020

CountryPopulationTotal Cases% of Population
Total cases per country and percentage of population

Total Covid-19 Deaths May 2, 2020

CountryPopulationTotal Deaths% of Cases
Total deaths per country and percentage of cases






June 28, 2020 Updated statistics

As you can see from the chart below, Sweden’s Covid-19 growth rate has been in a steady upward pattern for some time with some peculiar days of zero growth.  Then back to 1000+ cases per day.  Their highest day was 2,889 on June 22nd, after 3 days reporting zero growth.  Prior to that was a day with 1,481 new cases.  The day after their high reported 1,905 new cases.  This raises the question “Why?”

As you can see in the chart below, we have just had another 2 days of zero growth after reporting 1,247 new cases the day before.

The lower graph compares deaths between these four countries.  This is the most dramatic difference.  Sweden continues to have a very high mortality index compared to similar population countries.

The updated statistics regarding mortality rates for each country are as follows:

  • Portugal = 3.76%
  • Sweden = 8.11%
  • Chechia = 3.00%
  • Greece = 5.66%

As you can see from these numbers, Sweden has improved their mortality rate significantly in the last 2 months, but they are still more than double the next highest country and at 8.11% they are nearly double the current world average of 4.92%

Covid-19 Cases and Deaths Comparison for 10 Million Population Countries

Covid-19 Cases and Deaths Comparison for 10 Million Population Countries











July 4, 2020 Updated Statistics:
10 Million Population Countries Compared

10 Million Population Countries Compared








July 20, 2020 Update

Sweden pays human and economic price for not locking down

Sweden’s soft approach to the coronavirus pandemic has been controversial as the country opted against locking down to protect the economy. However, Sweden hasn’t been spared from great economic pain. CNN’s Phil Black reports.

Watch video here







Related story:

Deaths Soar in Country That Didn’t Lock Down

Unlike its European neighbors, Swedish officials did not institute lock down measures to combat the Covid-19 epidemic. CNN’s Phil Black takes a look at how that has affected the country’s outbreak.

Watch Video Here







May 26, 2020 Update

Total Covid-19 Cases May 26, 2020

CountryPopulationTotal Cases% of Population
Total cases per country and percentage of population

Total Covid-19 Deaths May 26, 2020

CountryPopulationTotal Deaths% of Cases
Total deaths per country and percentage of cases

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