Bad Covid-19 policies lead to nationalism

Some countries have controlled Covid-19 much more effectively than other countries:

Sweden’s diplomatic isolation in the Nordics has coincided with a more critical tone from Swedish media.

“In the short run, it might be fair to say that Sweden is isolated. The general tone of people and the press is that they are more critical. The general public is waking up to the fact that neighbouring countries and others are critical,” said a European diplomat in Stockholm.

Sweden has had 4,468 Covid-19 deaths whereas Denmark and Norway, each with about half their neighbour’s population, have had 580 and 237, respectively. Both Copenhagen and Oslo said the higher infection rate in Sweden was behind their decision not to open their borders to Swedes.

This creates anomosity:

“People are saying, especially in my constituency, ‘If we can’t go to Copenhagen, then why can the Danes come to Malmo?’ In the long run, it’s a really bad sentiment that goes against deepening co-operation and trust in the Nordic region.”

This is also making Swedes wonder if they made a mistake:

The architect of Sweden’s controversial lighter lockdown policy for dealing with coronavirus has for the first time conceded the Scandinavian country should have imposed more restrictions to avoid having such a high death toll.

I agree that Sweden blew it, but I’m not sure a lack of “mandates” was the key problem. Rather the Swedish government seemed content to rely on herd immunity, which is not likely to be an effective approach to the problem.

Japan has done much better, without a lot of mandates:

“Japan realised what was happening and started reacting before the virus took hold,” said Satoshi Hori, an expert on infection control and a professor at Juntendo University. “It was a locational advantage.”

Without any official instruction, the public began hand-sterilising, wearing masks and social distancing of its own accord.

“Everyone wore masks to protect themselves but the real effect was to reduce spreading by asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19,” said Prof Hori. “It may have been luck but it did make a difference.”

Japan used a particular approach to contact tracing. “Most other countries adopted what we call prospective tracing,” said Shigeru Omi, head of the expert panel advising Mr Abe on the virus. “The cluster-based approach uses thorough retrospective contact tracing to identify common sources of infection.”

In prospective tracing, the close contacts of a Covid-19 case are monitored so they can be quarantined if they show symptoms. Japan’s approach also tries to find out where they were infected, be it a nightclub or a hospital, and then monitor people who visited that site.

Four out of five coronavirus patients do not infect anyone else, so Dr Omi said that finding the superspreaders was a more efficient way to control the disease.

Nationalism is also an increasing problem in China, where foreigners (especially blacks) are viewed with increased suspicion and are severely discriminated against in housing and services. This discrimination is both unethical and irrational. But it’s also sadly predictable given that China has a far lower rate of Covid-19 infection than most other countries.

And no, the pandemic does not show that it’s a mistake to rely on foreign sources of drugs:

An official from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told Congress on Tuesday that the COVID-19 pandemic did not cause any countries to curtail shipments of pharmaceutical drugs to the United States—a bit of information that should serve to quell the nationalist panic over America’s health care supply chains.

And LOL, no matter how out there I get with my predictions of a post-physical future, I still can’t keep up with reality:

While the Faroe Islands closed its borders to travellers and tourists, the tourism board responded by inviting visitors to explore the archipelago virtually. Remote Tourism by Visit Faroe Islands allows you to experience the dramatic landscapes and beautiful nature of the Faroe Islands from anywhere in the world with their live-streamed tours through the eyes of a local.



19 Responses to “Bad Covid-19 policies lead to nationalism”

  1. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    3. June 2020 at 15:49

    This is all a bit ideological and tautological.

    There are no drug shortages, just 213 drugs you can’t get right now in the US.

    I love the statement by Throckmorton. It doesn’t matter where drugs are made, it matters that they get here when they are needed. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  2. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    3. June 2020 at 17:18

    “a bit ideological and tautological”

    Hmmm . . .

  3. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    4. June 2020 at 03:26


    Contact tracing is Epidemiology 101. Japan did not nothing special in this regard.

    Clustering could well be an effect of the fact that different people have different patterns of behavior and social interaction and have nothing to do with the characteristics of the disease.

    Norway and Finland vaccinate with BCG. Sweden does not.

    See….20.20107755v1 for the latest on BCG.

    I notice that both Lancet and NE Journal of Medicine are now saying the studies claiming adverse side effects for hydroxychloroquine were scams (to be precise they issued Expressions of Concern which is the same thing.)

  4. Gravatar of Todd Kreider Todd Kreider
    4. June 2020 at 04:03

    I guess my post didn’t get through but Japan didn’t start to contact trace outside of Wakayama until late March and Hori wasn’t correct in saying “Everyone wore masks.” According to a survey in February, 67% of Japanese wore masks whereas 90% did in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. South Korea use of masks was between Japan and China.

    Also, Norway stated a few days ago that its lockdown wasn’t effective and should have socially distance as Sweden did:

    Camilla Stoltenberg, director of Norway’s public health agency, has given an interview where she is candid about the implications of this discovery. ‘Our assessment now, and I find that there is a broad consensus in relation to the reopening, was that one could probably achieve the same effect – and avoid part of the unfortunate repercussions – by not closing. But, instead, staying open with precautions to stop the spread.’ This is important to admit, she says, because if the infection levels rise again – or a second wave hits in the winter – you need to be brutally honest about whether lockdown proved effective.”

  5. Gravatar of Todd Kreider Todd Kreider
    4. June 2020 at 04:04

    Stoltenberg’s quote was in The Spectator:

  6. Gravatar of Mighty Bobcat Mighty Bobcat
    4. June 2020 at 05:31

    Sweden death rate was lower than 5 other European countries including France and Belgium. How did their method of dealing with the Wuhan Flu become labeled a failure?

  7. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    4. June 2020 at 06:15

    @Mighty Bobcat

    It was a “failure” because you have countries like Norway, Denmark, Finland as a direct comparison.

    France and Belgium are not an ideal comparison because their conditions are different: different composition of the population, different culture, different mentality, different lifestyle, etc.

    The leading Swedish state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, who is responsible for their strategy, just said few days ago that, now, with hindsight, Sweden should have taken more measures to fight corona virus right from the start.

    He also said something along the lines of: “Too many Swedes have died too soon. If you came across the same disease with the current state of knowledge, the right path would be between the Swedish path and the path the rest of the world has taken.”

  8. Gravatar of Todd Kreider Todd Kreider
    4. June 2020 at 06:48

    @Christian List

    The Swedish epidemiologist Tegnell said: “[It is said that] the Swedish strategy was wrong and should be changed. That’s not the case. We still believe that our strategy is good, but there is always room for improvement. … You can always get better at this job.”

    Also, Norway is interesting to compare now that they have said that its lockdown was a mistake.

  9. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    4. June 2020 at 14:48

    dtoh, You said:

    “I notice that both Lancet and NE Journal of Medicine are now saying the studies claiming adverse side effects for hydroxychloroquine”

    Hard to believe people still have faith in that drug.

    Your BCG link is broken. In any case, the death rate in Sweden is like 10 times the rate in Norway. That’s not BCG, obviously.

    In any case, I don’t agree with your claim about who vaccinates and who does not. My sources present a different list of countries. Maybe you got information from a paper that’s a “scam”. 🙂

    Todd, You said:

    “Also, Norway stated a few days ago that its lockdown wasn’t effective and should have socially distance as Sweden did:”

    Yes, and the person behind Sweden’s programs says in retrospect it was a mistake. Your point is?

    In any case, the whole debate about lockdowns is STUPID. Both sides miss the point. The goal is to avoid both lockdowns and the high death rate of Sweden. Why is that so hard for people to understand?

  10. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    4. June 2020 at 16:23


    BCG link is

    AFAIK, the authors of this study have done the most careful research so far on who gets vaccinated and who does not. What is your source for BCG vaccination data?

    You don’t find it strange, that Sweden who does not vaccinate for BCG has a Covid mortality rate that is 10 times higher than either Finland and Norway who do vaccinate for BCG?

    I think the point here, is that statements like “Some countries have controlled Covid-19 much more effectively than other countries,” and “Sweden blew it” may be just plain wrong and that in fact a lot of government action (or lack of action) has very little impact on the course of the pandemic.

  11. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    4. June 2020 at 16:26

    And BTW – the paper on Hydroxycholoroquine side effects was not just shoddy research, it was in fact a scam.

  12. Gravatar of Todd Kreider Todd Kreider
    4. June 2020 at 20:45

    “Yes, and the person behind Sweden’s programs says in retrospect it was a mistake. Your point is?”

    That is wrong. As I wrote above, “The Swedish epidemiologist Tegnell said: “[It is said that] the Swedish strategy was wrong and should be changed. That’s not the case. We still believe that our strategy is good, but there is always room for improvement.”

    “We still believe our strategy is good.” =/= “It was a mistake.”

  13. Gravatar of Roger Gathmann Roger Gathmann
    5. June 2020 at 04:39

    I like how Frode Froland, the director of infectious diseases and global health at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. who has been interviewed often and has said, clearly, that Norway’s response was correct, and that Sweden went wrong in using the wrong model, based on the swine flu instead of corona, seems to be ignored by the rightwing press in Britain, who proclaim that Camilia Stoltenberg suddenly speaks for Norway. She doesn’t, and her view is not a majority view of either the epidemiologists or the government in Norway. Here’s the interview:

  14. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    5. June 2020 at 10:26

    dtoh, Whenever I look up data on who vaccinates and who does not, the list of countries never matches your claims. You might be right and the sources I use might be wrong, but who knows?

    In any case, Sweden is hit 10 times harder than Norway, no one claims anything like that for the BCG vaccine. It probably has some effect, but more like 10% than 10 times.

    As for Hydroxycholoroquine, I have no idea whether one study was “a scam”. If you can find proof of that, please provide it. Not that I care–why should I? I’ve never even talked about that study. In the meantime, many other studies have been done, and AFAIK most of the recent ones show it doesn’t work. I find it amusing that people still have faith in the product, because the Great expert Donald Trump thinks its useful. Maybe it has some use, who knows, but what’s funny to me is the reason people tout the drug. I don’t get my scientific information from Trump.

    Todd, Now you are just being dishonest, selectively quoting Norwegian and Swedish experts using entirely different criteria. Hard to take anything you say seriously if you intend to keep on being so dishonest.

    Roger, Don’t expect Todd to pay attention, his mind is made up.

  15. Gravatar of Dtoh Dtoh
    5. June 2020 at 13:05

    Yes they are claiming 10 fold effects. If anything, that’s at the lower end. JAPAN for example has a mortality rate that’s 50 times lower than the US. If it were only 10%, nobody would be talking about it.

    Regarding the scam, you can read it on the front page of the New York Times Washington Post or Wall Street Journal. I don’t know whether hydroxychloroquine is effective or not, my only point is that the liberal media has been dismissive of it and too willing to accept contrary evidence simply because Trump talked about it. They were similarly dismissive of his claims regarding the mortality rate, and in fact ridiculed him, and then it turned out he was right.

  16. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    7. June 2020 at 19:20

    dtoh, The studies I’ve seen that claim BCG helps tend to claim small effects. If it were a ten-fold effect it would be obvious to all.

  17. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    8. June 2020 at 01:11

    Which studies are you referring to. The one I linked shows an 80% reduction in incidence and 50% reduction in mortality if infected (on average.) That’s a 10 fold overall reduction in mortality (1/5 x 1/2.)

  18. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. June 2020 at 06:13

    So some studies found no effect, despite a 10 fold effect? That’s like someone visiting Switzerland and failing to see any mountains. Possible, but not likely.

  19. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    8. June 2020 at 12:50

    What studies are you referring to that show no effect. The only one I’ve seen is a study of passengers on the Diamond Princess that said there was no difference in mortality between Japanese (BCG vaccinated)and non-Japanese (no BCG vaccination.) The only problem with that study was that it didn’t control for the fact the median age for Japanese passengers was 69 versus 39 for non-Japanese, which tells me that the study was (pardon my French) a total piece of crap and that the author is a moron.

    If there are other studies that show no or limited correlations, I would be interested to see them.

    For another very recent and thorough study confirming the very strong correlation between BCG vaccination and reduced Covid incidence and mortality, see…

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