Many of us lit candles and prayed that Sweden’s approach to the coronavirus would succeed. As the rest of Europe locked down, Sweden stayed mostly open. Its plan was to keep vulnerable people separate while letting the virus infect the others, thus creating herd immunity — a large proportion of people no longer able to spread the disease. Meanwhile, everyone would go about their business, and the economy wouldn’t suffer.
The Swedish example could have offered deliverance from mask wearing, closed gyms and fights over when to open schools. But it didn’t work.
Sweden has recorded about 571 virus deaths per million, more than even our 563 deaths per million. Its formerly locked-down Scandinavian neighbors have reported far, far lower mortality, while their economies are doing just as well, if not better. Guess disease and death are bad for business.
And despite the suffering, Sweden is nowhere near achieving herd immunity, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, writes in The Wall Street Journal. Neither are we.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, President Donald Trump’s favorite coronavirus adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas, now recommends following Sweden’s example. Two other non-surprises are that Atlas has no background in infectious diseases or epidemiology and that Trump found him on Fox News.
And, oh, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just advised not testing people who have been exposed to the virus but show no symptoms. This "let-it-rip policy," Gottlieb complains, "will make it more difficult to track and trace cases."
It’s screwy from an economic standpoint because frequent and widespread testing can help the country reopen by identifying those who need to be isolated. […]