President Trump has been hammering the Swedish model, but even the World Health Organization has praise for it, since Sweden, while having a moderate number of cases, suffered little economic damage as did the rest of the West:
“President Trump on Thursday took aim at Sweden’s decision to not order lockdowns in response to the coronavirus epidemic, claiming the U.S. made “the correct decision” after the World Health Organization praised the Scandinavian country’s more moderate approach. “Despite reports to the contrary, Sweden is paying heavily for its decision not to lockdown. As of today, 2462 people have died there, a much higher number than the neighboring countries of Norway (207), Finland (206) or Denmark (443),” he tweeted. “The United States made the correct decision!” Sweden has implemented a number of social distancing measures but has, by and large, kept its economy and daily life going, leaving schools, businesses and leisure activities open while closing sporting events and large gatherings. Despite warnings from experts that the strategy could have deadly consequences, the country's approach has become a talisman for lockdown skeptics who say the strategy was misguided and unnecessarily harmful. A New York Times story on Sweden’s approach this week, filled with pictures of Swedes sipping wine in cafes and chatting (maskless) at restaurants, noted that the country’s death rate per 100,000 is about the same as Ireland’s, and better than Britain’s or France’s. While locked down Americans and Europeans are being warned that severe restrictions could last for much longer than previously promised amid fears of a "second wave," Sweden’s ambassador to the U.S. said last week that “herd immunity” -- by which most of the population is immune from infection -- could be achieved in Stockholm by mid-May. Those, like Trump, who criticize the approach, highlight that the number of deaths from the virus is high compared with other Scandinavian countries. But lockdown skeptics note that the original goal of the strategy was not to stop people getting infected altogether but to slow the spread of those infections in a way that doesn’t immediately overwhelm a country’s health care system. Sweden’s health care system has so far not been overwhelmed.