Sweden do-nothing approach good, US/UK/other countries' early do-nothing approach bad. Why?

My point here was more along the lines of good scientific practices. If you wish to draw the kinds of conclusions that you could from, say, a randomized controlled trial, then you would want to make sure that your experimental groups are as similar as can be. We of course aren’t doing an RCT, but we also shouldn’t think that means we can throw out the principles of reason that inform those trials in the first place.

But more so even than that, I have to ask what you think the null hypothesis would be if it were an experiment? Is it that closing schools has no effect, or leaving them open? What is exactly is the comparison you are trying to draw? That Sweden could have closed its schools and accomplished the exact same thing they did from leaving them open?

I think the science shows – or, if you like, is beginning to show – that long-term school closures are more harmful than helpful. I stand by my belief that closing schools indefinitely, and keeping them closed, was and is a mistake. As I have told you on multiple occasions, I do not have opinions more nuanced than that about any cases in particular that I am not well read about, including the ones you continue to bring up.

…you are looking at this all wrong.

The public health response during a pandemic starts with an imperfect dataset.

To explain I’m going to use an example (despite your objections) from New Zealand.

Last week a person tested positive for Covid 19 in the community. The case geonomic to any past or present cases that had been through managed isolation. This means the source was a mystery.

So Auckland escalated to Alert Level 3 for three days. And at Alert Level 3 schools close down. Why do they close?

Because if gives the contact tracers time to isolate close contacts and test them. And in this case two people did test positive, both close contacts, two students who attended Papatoetoe High School.

Was the decision to close schools right or wrong here? We can make all sorts of judgements in hindsight. And that is exactly what you are doing here. Deciding things in hindsight isn’t the scientific process. And that isn’t how public heath officials make decisions. They made a decision here based on imperfect information where if they got it wrong could result in hundreds of deaths. That changes the risk matrix. You simply can’t ignore this.

You are arguing against a strawman. Nobody is arguing for long term closures. Many people argue that schools (that are closed) should open when they are safe to do so. What is and isn’t safe is the matter for debate.

Of course you are.

Now do you want to tell me about how Vietnam is handling their present outbreak? There are 500+ cases in the north, as you may know, as well as a few dozen cases in Ho Chi Minh City. Do you know for how long (if at all) their schools are closing?

…you seem to know all the answers. How about you provide them rather than being cryptic?

You were the one who introduced Vietnam as a point of comparison, not me.


I used Vietnam earlier in the thread to compare how different countries ultimately managed the pandemic. I used NZ in my last post to illustrate a particular point. It appears you missed the point. If you know the answer to the question you posed then just answer it already. But the answer won’t change the point I was making.

Yes, I want to hear your assessment of how Vietnam is managing the pandemic, since you raised it as a point of comparison. If I understood you correctly, you wished to draw conclusions about death stats as causally related to management practices. So I thought we could put your point to the test by observing how Vietnam is managing its present outbreak, perhaps even vis a vis the way New Zealand responded recently, as you described.

What I sense is that you don’t really know how Vietnam is handling its present outbreak, which calls into question the validity of the point you tried to use it to make.

…well tough. You aren’t going to get it. I know the pivot game you play. You get proven wrong so you pivot to expecting me to defend or explain a position I’ve never held. Pivot. Pivot. Pivot.

If you think how Vietnam has handled the pandemic somehow refutes anything I’ve said then it’s over to you to show how it does so.

But it’s laughable that you expect me to do the legwork to give you evidence to rebut my point. That’s your job.

So, you picked a country with a lot of people and a low death rate, as evidence that certain measures lead to certain outcomes, but you don’t know or won’t say what interventions they are (or are not) implementing?


That wasn’t my point.

Not even close.

Not even in the ballpark.

Did you actually read what I wrote before instantly dismissing it because of who I am and the country I was talking about?

I said you missed the point. Now you’ve conceded you missed the point.

Here’s what you said.

And you elaborated on it here:

I used Vietnam earlier in the thread to compare how different countries ultimately managed the pandemic.

What’s the ballpark of the point, if not that Vietnam is an example of managing the pandemic well, and Sweden one of managing it poorly?


That is indeed what I said.

That wasn’t an elaboration. That was an explanation.

I had just made a separate distinct, independent point that had absolutely nothing to do with this at all.

In response to that separate distinct, independent point that had absolutely nothing to do with this at all you responded with:

It was a pivot away from that separate distinct, independent point and I suspect you still haven’t read the post in question yet.

The post I made was about the decision matrix. That decisions are often made with incomplete information because by the time you have “conducted experiments” people will already be dead.

Knowing what happened in Vietnam doesn’t change that point. You are conflating two very different points.

And again: the specifics of the policy don’t matter. If we assume for the sake of debate that Sweden were absolutely correct in the handling of schools between March and June 2020 that doesn’t mean much because they 631 thousand cases of covid and over 12 thousand deaths.

I provided 3 different countries that covered the full range of excuses that have been offered to explain why Sweden couldn’t have done better. Population density. Population size. Land borders. Seasons. The only real distinction here is Sweden’s “do-nothing approach.” It was lauded by many but it is also the significant distinguishing factor between countries that did well during the pandemic and those that did not.

So it actually doesn’t matter what Vietnam did with schools, or what New Zealand did with schools, or what Norway did with schools. Because ultimately what Sweden did with schools did not stop 631 thousand cases of covid and it did not stop over 12 thousand deaths.

Seeing as this thread has kicked into gear again, I’ll do a Stockholm update.

Infections increased 24% in a week a couple of weeks ago and 27% last week. So the region have brought in some new rules:

  1. Schools are closed again for older children.
  2. Masks are now required (although it is unclear how that would be enforced) at all times on public transport and indoors when prolonged contact with people happens.

Note that in that they are resigned to the fact that a lot of people won’t follow these rules, which goes against the “rule following Swede” myth that perpetuated last year.

Oh and I’ve just checked. More new national rules this week. No English links, unfortunately.

No serving of alcohol after 8pm. All bars, cafés and restaurants have to close by 8:30pm. Shops, gyms etc need to count the amount of people going in and limit it so that every person has ten square meters.

So all going just swimmingly here.

On Vietnam, they are now returning to schools in Hanoi next week, same as in Ho Chi Minh City. Other cities/regions returned last week. So, they closed schools for around two weeks after the Tet holiday, to help try to get a handle on the large outbreak in the north and the small hotspots around the country. Some non-essential businesses in the large cities were closed, but it’s mostly been life as usual outside of one locked down area.

Meanwhile, New Zealand now seems to be entering another snap lockdown, this one for a week, with one case of unknown origin having been discovered.

The notion that all the ‘good’ countries are handling this the same way is simply misinformed.

You also don’t get reports like this one coming out of Vietnam. Now, there are several reason for that, yes. But I suspect one large reason is that Vietnam doesn’t seem to tend to shut everything down at the sight of a single case, and they don’t have a litany of micromanaged rules.

Maybe you should spend a little effort researching your suspicions because I suspect you are extremely lazy in that respect. Yet you contrast and compare regardless.

That took me literally 10 seconds to find.

…what are you even talking about now?

Schools have just closed again for older children in Sweden. Was that the right thing to do in your opinion or not?

Auckland is going into Level 3. The rest of the country is going to Level 2. Where I live life isn’t really going to be that different. Its a proportional sensible response to what could potentially be a big outbreak.

Yep. We’ve locked down when cases have no clear point of origin because that means we can’t isolate the chain of transmission. This is only the third time we’ve had to escalate to this since the original Level 4 lockdown in March/April last year.

Another strawman. The “good countries” are all handling this differently but all adhering to the same epidemiological principals.

FigNorton has already demonstrated how laughingly bad you’ve missed the mark here. The lockdown in Vietnam is a much more stringent lockdown than NZ Level 3. And the current NZ outbreak is centered around a school which, considering what has been discussed here over the last few posts is kinda ironic.

I mentioned there was one locked down area. The entire rest of the country is most assuredly not. And there are hundreds of cases at present. You won’t find anything at all in a Google search that I don’t already know.

When life goes on mostly as normal throughout the great majority of one country while there are hundreds of cases, and in another country life is largely interrupted when there is any transmission at all, those two countries are not guided by the same principles. Or, perhaps it is better to say, they certainly aren’t implementing the same kinds of policies.