Let’s Compare Sweden’s Covid Outcome to That of Its Lockdown-Crazed Former Possession of Latvia
We're only allowed to compare Sweden to its former possessions of Finland and Norway
Covid curves of Sweden and Britain are remarkably similar. Britain’s peaks are slightly higher, as are its cumulative deaths per capita, but in general, the two share the same ups and downs and the same Covid seasons.
This might lead some to conclude that for Covid purposes Sweden and Britain are in the same region and highly comparable, but such comparisons have been outlawed by the Covid fanatics. For some reason, Sweden can for Covid reasons only ever be compared to just three other countries; Norway, Finland, and Denmark, and no others.
That trio indeed had a better Covid outcome (if not a better rights, dignity, and calmness outcome) than Sweden, which supposedly means that if Sweden had locked down as they had it would have likewise experienced similarly low Covid deaths. What is the proof of that? If lockdowns “mitigate” Covid deaths then why wasn’t the UK with its even more Draconian lockdown able to replicate low Norwegian and Finnish numbers? Why wasn’t lockdown UK able to show Sweden “how it’s done” and embarrass her? (Or lockdown world leader Peru for that matter which is instead nonetheless also world’s Covid deaths leader.) Why didn’t lockdowns work in the UK, but would have in Sweden?
The answer of the lockdown lemmings is usually population density. Supposedly having a greater landmass per capita means that Sweden with its 88% urbanization rate is less densely populated than the UK with an 84% urbanization rate, and this makes all the difference.
In reality, Sweden’s three largest metro areas contain fully 32% of its population (for the UK that figure would be 22%) with most of the rest also living in densely populated (if smaller) cities and towns (disproportionally along the coast). That these historical maritime Baltic trade cities come with vast swathes of frozen northern wasteland attached, does not mean that Swedes are somehow stretched out across secluded permafrosted mountain villages. To the contrary, the very fact that Sweden is much more rugged than Britain means its population is much more concentrated in the few “good” parts of the country.
But anyhow, Sweden is only ever to be compared to its “neighbors”. But in this context what exactly is a “neighbor”? Denmark and Sweden are actually separated by a strait albeit since 2000 there is a 12-kilometer bridge-tunnel across/underneath. Sweden and Finland technically share a border, but that is in the far north where few ever visit and even fewer live. Actual Swedish-Finish links are maritime across the Baltic Sea.
Despite the theoretical land route, historically Finland functioned as a Swedish overseas possession, communication to which was maintained by sailing past the Åland islands and then up the Gulf of Finland (and up the Gulf of Bothnia when it’s not frozen). Another trans-Baltic possession of the Swedes was Latvia (Duchy of Livonia). Finland was lost to Russia during the Napoleonic period and Latvia to Peter the Great a century earlier.
The pair gained independence from Russia at the same time in 1918, but Latvia experienced a “second stint” under the Soviets from 1940 to 1991.
Owing to Swedish (and earlier Baltic German) influence Latvia remains a Lutheran country with recognizable northern historic architecture.
Finland had been under Swedish rule for basically forever, while Latvia was originally conquered and Christianized by mainly German-speaking crusaders who secularized and switched to Protestantism after Luther.
Latvia speaks a Baltic language very different from Germanic Swedish, and Finland speaks a Finnic language that is not even in the Indo-European family of languages.
A ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki takes 16 hours and 15 minutes and runs five times a week. A ferry from Stockholm to Riga takes 18 hours and 30 minutes and runs once a week. (Helsinki is twice the size of Riga and there are more reasons to go there.)
So if we are allowed to compare Covid outcomes in Sweden and in its former overseas territory of Finland, may we also be so bold as to compare it to the outcome in its (previously German-ruled) former territory of Latvia?
Let’s say that we are.
If we do that we find that Latvia has been extremely gung ho on lockdowns, locking down early, hard, and often, and garnering considerable praise for doing so. We also find that despite coming out of the first wave almost completely unscathed and continuing to dutifully lockdown ever since Latvia by now has 20% more per capita Covid deaths than never-lockdown Sweden and rising.
Lockdown enthusiasts maintain that Latvia’s lockdown was responsible for the country not experiencing the first wave in the spring of 2020 at all, but since that wave skipped entire Eastern Europe, including neighboring Belarus which never locked down, that is highly debatable. More likely Latvia and the rest of the eastern half of the continent would have never experienced the first wave regardless of what they did. Or what else explains the instruments which supposedly worked so flawlessly in the Spring of 2020 failing so utterly ever since?
A possible argument in defense of Latvia’s Covid record could be that comparison to Sweden is not fair given the latter’s much higher vaccination rate.
That argument doesn’t hold up because Sweden faced both of its major outbreaks before vaccines were a factor. Meanwhile, Latvia has only hit its biggest outbreak now that many of its residents have vaccine protection.
The vast majority of Swedish Covid cases occurred before February 2021, that is to say before vaccines. Meanwhile, Latvia gets the luxury of not having to face its biggest, deadliest wave until it has reached a 57% vaccination rate, and it is lockdown Latvia, rather than laissez-faire Sweden, which is hitting higher peaks and has already accumulated more Covid deaths. Explain that.
And for the record, Latvia’s urbanization rate is 68%. Unlike Sweden, Latvia actually is still significantly rural. (Not that any of that matters in the least, as a cursory glance to lockdown North Dakota and non-lockdown South Dakota will tell you, both of which recorded relatively high Covid deaths despite their low population densities. (Incidentally, like Latvia, South Dakota also completely skipped the first wave, despite never locking down.))