Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Covid-19 shortened the average Swedish life by 2 days (over six)

In 2020, Sweden became a remarkable country because unlike pretty much all Western white nations, it responded correctly to a new variant of a flu-like virus: it imposed virtually no ad hoc (Covid-only) mandatory nationwide restrictions. People were encouraged to be careful and improve their hygiene; some vulnerable people were increasingly protected in special facilities. Public health officials were monitoring the situation and dealing with local events. In June, Sweden just allowed a far higher number of "cases" than the rest of Europe where the spring waves were artificially suppressed, "flattened", or prevented.

But all schools remained open at all times, no regular people were ever required to wear face masks anywhere, restaurants remained open, the border remained in both directions open most of the time, and so on. Some mass events were banned, however. The business in restaurants was lowered because of the people's individual decisions (a nice aspect of that is that the people who could gain by isolating themselves were more likely to isolate themselves – and they know about the need more than the government does). By doing the right thing, Sweden helped not only itself. It has also served mankind as a wonderful laboratory showing what Covid-19 actually is and what it isn't. Sweden has provided mankind with a wonderful template to follow – which no other government seems to be explicitly following even now when it is 100% clear that the Swedish approach was right and the opposite countries' decisions were the gravest mistakes in the world history.

The tweet above contains a graph from the lower right corner of the Swedish Covid-19 statistics page. The word "avlidna" means deaths, that's what you need to know. Well, while the peak of the deaths with Covid was 115 in Sweden (reached twice, on April 8th and 15th) which is already fewer than the Czech Near-Lockdown Republic's record (139 on Monday), the deaths with Covid-19 became infinitesimal over 3 months ago. Even though daily positive tests reached 1870 five days ago, the deaths safely seem to be in the 1-4 range or fewer. In the cooling weather, \(R_0\) is increasing and so is the fraction required for herd immunity but this will only cause a very slow "burning".

So Covid-19 is really over in Sweden. Days ago, unlike others, Sweden refused to introduce any new restrictions (even for seniors) because now it's clearer than ever that they bring more harm than benefits. In recent days, the overall death tally saw some downward revisions. It's likely that it will stay below 6,000 for the rest of the year.

Because the accumulated Swedish Covid-19 figures are basically complete (see how the Covid-19 deaths are restarting everywhere but not in Sweden; see how the January-September overall deaths in Sweden per million don't significantly differ between 2020 and previous years; see a recent 2-week increase of deaths in Sweden and elsewhere), we may also calculate some "final values" of many quantities. One of them is the average period by which Covid-19 shortened a Swedish person's life. Well, just look at the third column of the statistics page which shows the deaths by the age cohorts (Avlidna per åldersgrupp). The total is 5918 now.

The data say (the square brackets will be explained soon):

* 2: 0-9 [77]
* 0: 10-19 [67]
* 10: 20-29 [58]
* 17: 30-39 [49]
* 45: 40-49 [40]
* 164: 50-59 [31]
* 409: 60-69 [23]
* 1269: 70-79 [16]
* 2458: 80-89 [10]
* 1544: 90-199 [4]

OK, you see that 2/3 of the Swedish deaths with Covid-19 were at least 80 years old. The life expectancy is 82 in Sweden. Now, many person-years of life the Swedish nation has lost because of these deaths? Just multiply the first number in each line (the number of deaths) by the last one, the average remaining life expectancy (expectation value of the number of remaining years of life) in each age group. I wrote the remaining life expectancies \([e(x)]\) in the square brackets above. They were estimated from the overall life expectancy 82 years; and from the last column \(e(x)\) of the first table at this page (which was written for a similar population where the life expectancy was 10 years shorter).

We may calculate the total number of lost person-years (due to deaths with Covid-19) as the sum of products
2*77 + 0*67 + 10*58 + ... + 1544*4 = 68918
It's less than 70 thousand years (feel free to adjust the numbers; clearly, your adjustments won't change anything dramatically or qualitatively). Divide it by the population of Sweden, 10.2 million, and you get 0.0068 years or 2.4 days or so. By causing premature deaths, Covid-19 has subtracted some 2 days from the average Swede's life. Now, these 2 days are a huge overestimate because the country counted "deaths with Covid" and Covid has contributed as little as 1/6 of the average death (there were other conditions; equivalently, these lives would be shorter than in the table, anyway, because they were mostly the vulnerable ones; you shouldn't double count, however).

So a more realistic estimate of the "life shortening due to Covid-19 for the average person" is about half a day. You could also add 5 lousy days that hundreds of thousands of people suffered through (people who didn't die but they had an annoying not-completely-mild Covid experience); this would roughly add a much smaller amount, 500,000+ person-days or a few thousand person-years, much less than 70,000 man-years above.

Imagine that any country may emulate Sweden; or "fight against Covid-19" by draconian restrictions and lockdowns. Generously overlook the trillions of extra dollars that the lockdowns burn (and the resulting shortening of lives due to the increased poverty, suicides, and so on). Just count the most obvious, zeroth-order things. A very optimistic country with lockdowns may avoid all or almost all the Swedish-like deaths; but the average person only gains 0.5-2.5 days of life if that plan succeeds. Surely you see that the lockdown (strong enough to prevent Covid-19 from ever getting comparable to Sweden's) destroys an average person's higher number of effective days than 0.5-2.5 days per average person. In a lockdown, people are forced to waste their time and suffer at least for 10% of the 50-day duration of a lockdown (or remove at least 10% of the fun from the lockdown period) which is already 5 days, and that's a huge underestimate.

Světlana who is Soviet-born shows what the normal life looked like. And it still looks like that in Stockholm right now.

That is a simple quantitative demonstration of the fact that the lockdowns, even if successful (and almost no lockdowns have been successful, at least not "sustainably so"), create more damages than benefits even if we totally ignore the freedom, economy, culture, and education, among other things. The Swedish way honestly subtracts half a day from the average life; the strategy to permanently fight against the growth of Covid to the natural dimensions is likely to lead to destroyed economies and a year or two for most citizens.

Many countries that previously celebrated fishy "victories over Covid-19" in the spring, including Czechia and Slovakia, are seeing a growth comparable to (or larger than) the Swedish one, having proven that the "victories in the spring" were totally spurious and the wasting of the resources was futile. Some other countries keep a small overall Covid-19 tally, e.g. New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, and Uruguay, to pick three examples. But the measures that are already adopted to "sustain" the much-lower-than-Swedish overall Covid activity are already insane and some nations are increasingly manipulating themselves into ever deeper holes. Just to keep on denying that they did a huge mistake in the spring, they are bound to increase the mistake indefinitely.

New Zealand is likely to keep the border completely locked for a year or forever. Melbourne tends to restart the siege whenever 3 positive tests appear 180 km from the city. And even China has tested 4 million people because it discovered a single asymptomatic positive carrier somewhere (the tests found 100+ more). And so on. The preservation of this "Covid purity" really requires a long-term suppression of human lives and basic freedoms. Which other government will be the first one to admit that a huge mistake has been made and the switch to the Swedish approach is needed to cut the losses?

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