Sweden has become a cautionary tale for the coronavirus response, according to the New York Times. The country made the decision to keep its economy open during the pandemic and implemented limited business closures to help keep its economy moving. But the economy still felt repercussions, and thousand of residents needlessly died.

The experiment of Sweden’s coronavirus response is now a warning sign for other countries hoping to “open” economies during the pandemic. Discussing Sweden’s benefits from their response, ““They literally gained nothing,” Jacob F. Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington told the New York Times. “It’s a self-inflicted wound, and they have no economic gains.”

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The United States has begun to follow a similar model in a supposed bid for economic benefits. The virus continues to spread, with over half of the United States seeing rising case numbers, but many states are avoiding lockdowns or lifted their lockdowns despite no reduction in cases. But Sweden’s results show that economic benefits don’t correlate to a lack of lockdowns. Instead, Sweden saw increased deaths and limited economic benefits.

Per million people, Sweden suffered 40% more deaths than the United States, 12 times more than Norway and six times more than Denmark. And Sweden’s economy is expected to shrink by 4.5% in 2020. Denmark, which imposed strict lockdown orders and widespread testing will see its economy reduce 4.1 % in 2020. Sweden’s higher death rate did not correspond to improved economic gains. In fact, relative to other Scandinavian countries that imposed lockdowns, it felt close to the same economic contraction, without the high death rate.

Sweden’s data is being reviewed in multiple studies and one found that Sweden’s death rate was still lower than neighboring EU countries and the UK. Dr. Peter Kasson, study author and researcher at Sweden’s Uppsala University said of the findings from their “soft” approach to lockdown, “The key finding is that individual actions matter. If enough individuals stay home and take precautions when in the community, it can really change the infection curve. And we can’t let up now.”

Read more about protecting yourself from coronavirus. Check the CDC website for more information on how to protect yourself and check our latest article to learn how COVID-19 differs from the flu.

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Catch up on our latest coronavirus coverage in One Green Planet, check out these articles:

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