Covid, Tango and the Lagom Way
Directed by Claudia Nye (2020)
This documentary was made by an Argentinian expatriate (and tango aficionado) who lives in the UK and is tired of being branded a right wing fanatic for questioning the benefit of social lockdowns. It She decided to visit Sweden, one of several countries (including Taiwan and Japan) that decided not to lock down their population.
She conducts a fairly long interview with Dr Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s head epidemiologist, as well as interviewing Swedes she meets on the street.
In the absence of lockdown legislation, most Swedes over 65 chose to remain at home. Those with “comorbidities” that make them more vulnerable to severe COVID complications (eg obesity, diabetes, kidney/heart/lung disease, pregnancy) also voluntarily self-isolate. Although many Swedes now work from home and several universities have shut down, most schools and businesses have remain open and practice social distancing.
According to Tegnell, the Swedish government has no statutory powers over the Swedish Public Health Agency. The latter holds sole responsibility for enforcing public health measures.* As a general rule, the agency places responsibility on individual citizens to make good choices about protecting their own and others’ health. This contrasts with the US and other Europeans countries, whose governments (according to Nye) treat their constituents like children.
Tegnell indicates that Sweden’s COVID policy is consistent with the Swedish “Lagom” (translated “not too little, not too much”) way, which values balance above all else.
Nye goes over the COVID statistics with Tegnell At the time of filming (late 2020), 872 Swedes had died as a direct result of COVID 19 infection, and 5,813 and died “with Covid.” According to Tegnell this means they tested positive for COVID before dying from other causes.
In tracing total Swedish mortality over the last three decades, Nye finds the Sweden follows roughly the same curve as other European Countries. In fact, both Swedish and British epidemiologists agree that COVID mortality outside the 65+ age group is extremely low.
Nye also compares Swedish mortality data with that of nearby Finland and Norway. Overall mortality for 2019 and 2020 is roughly the same, with Finland and Norway experiencing a spike in mortality in 2019 (due to a a really severe influenza season) and Sweden (which experienced negligible influenza deaths in 2019) experiencing its mortality spike in 2020.
*This changed in January 2021, when the Swedish parliament gave itself statutory powers to impose lockdowns.