Lockdowns: Sweden was the ‘control group’

As much of the world is still implementing lockdowns, including New Zealand, it is a good time to see how Sweden has fared. After being demonised for a year for having relatively moderate restrictions the Swedish death toll is rather much in line with other years. Sweden followed the standard guidelines for how to manage a respiratory pandemic, rather than the extreme model adopted by most other countries. Whichever approach is better Sweden does provide a control group in the experiment with lockdowns. Below is a short article by a Swedish citizen looking at the numbers in detail. There is a more lengthy post from the same blog which is linked at the end.

Covid Sweden – Final mortality based on the now Official 2020 Death Data from SCB

Posted on February 23, 2021 by swdevperestroika

In this short post I’ll present a couple of graphs showing the final, official all cause mortality numbers 2020 for Sweden.

In summary: 2020 was *not*, contrary to popular belief, a very remarkable year in terms of deaths.

Actually, this is pretty much a totally redundant post, since the official numbers released yesterday (2021-02-22) do not change anything from what I presented here , using the SCB preliminary data, already more than a month ago, January 18:th. At that time, the preliminary death toll for 2020 was very close to 98000, and the final number, presented yesterday, ended up at 98124.


Mortality 2020 ended up just below that of 2012, exactly as obtained in my previous post of January 18:th using the preliminary data.

Age Group Specific Mortality

Now, with the official numbers available, I have access to yearly age bins also for 2020. Using that data, age group mortality (10 year bins) looks like below:

10 year binned age group mortality

The black dashed line in each plot represents a baseline obtained by the average mortality for each age group taken from the years 2015-2018. Notable is that mortality 2020 is at or below baseline for all age groups below 70, except for age group 10-19 which resides slightly above baseline. The reason for the slightly higher mortality than “normal” for the 10-19 years olds has to do with what I call “The Law of Small Numbers”: 204 children & youngsters in that age group died in 2020, and with such a low number, even a very small change year-to-year looks large.

Age Group Specific Mortality Growth vs Baseline

A perhaps better view of 2020 mortality per age group is obtained by looking at the group specific mortality growth factors:

age group mortality growth

As can be seen in the graph above, only 3 age groups (10-19,70-79,90-99) out of 11 had mortality significantly above Baseline. And as mentioned above, the higher than “normal” mortality for the 10-19 year olds is explained by the Law of Small Numbers, meaning that all “Excess Deaths” (whichever way we’ve chosen to define “Excess” – see here for info on how ambiguous the notion of “Excess Deaths” is ) occurred in age groups 70-79 and 90-99.

For a more in depth look at the data: https://softwaredevelopmentperestroika.wordpress.com/2021/01/15/final-report-on-swedish-mortality-2020-anno