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23 May, 2020 10:49

Biased mainstream media again misuses science to paint sensible Sweden as reckless gamblers - here is why they are wrong

Biased mainstream media again misuses science to paint sensible Sweden as reckless gamblers - here is why they are wrong

Sweden has found that just 7.3 percent of Stockholmers have antibodies for coronavirus, despite the country’s laissez-faire handling of the outbreak. The mainstream media think this proves them right. It doesn’t.

Just last week, I criticized a piece of reportage in the Guardian, that grand old publication, for its remedial understanding of coronavirus. They are at it again, this time holding up an antibody study as evidence that Sweden, a land of dangerous wrong-think, is killing people with its coronavirus policy.

First, let us deal with the study itself. It reported that, based on antibody tests – which are supposed to detect people who have had and cleared the coronavirus – far fewer Stockholmers had had the virus than thought, which would mean that Sweden has a long way to go to reach herd immunity. But the thing about antibody tests is that they are utterly unreliable.

Also on rt.com Shameful treatment of the elderly is further proof Sweden got its Covid-19 strategy all wrong

There is no way to know what proportion of infected people generate antibodies. And even if they all do, we don’t know how accurate the tests are in detecting them. Therefore, as Professor Sunetra Gupta of the University Oxford confirmed on Thursday, the figure that comes out of an antibody test is a lower bound of the proportion of people who have been infected. A more honest reporting of the data would have read “At least 7.3 percent of Stockholm had Covid-19 antibodies by the end of April.”

Sweden turns heel

In order to turn on their usual social democratic idols Sweden, the Guardian has had to spin harder than a hamster on a wheel. They have decided to find a metric on which Sweden can be made to look bad, and they have chosen to compare its deaths per million to the other Nordic countries. Deaths per million is a laughably crude metric that takes no confounding factors into account – least of all the wildly different reporting countries use for Covid deaths. At the bottom of the Guardian’s graph is a disclaimer reading: “Note: counting methods vary by country.”

Sweden does score higher than Denmark, Norway and Finland on that particular metric, due in large part to their failure to keep the virus out of nursing homes. But in order to ascribe this difference to Sweden’s decision not to shut down their economy, the Guardian must establish that France, the UK, and above all Belgium – well above Sweden in deaths per million – have been even more laissez-faire than Sweden regarding the virus. But of course this is impossible.

Also on rt.com ‘Swedish model’ of no-lockdown response to Covid-19 ‘WORKED REGARDLESS OF EXCESSIVE DEATHS,’ its architect says

They appear to have found a Swedish Guardian reader, one Bjorn Olsen of Uppsala University. Olsen, taking the 7.3 percent antibody result at face value, and being a man of some education, has calculated that this is rather far away from the 50 or 60 percent required for herd immunity. “I think herd immunity is a long way off,” tooted the professor of infectious medicine.

But Sweden is not aiming for herd immunity, as their state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell keeps telling people. They are simply ensuring that hospitals do not become overwhelmed, rather than being scared of the second wave. You know, as was the point all along. When, by the way, did that go out the window? Wasn’t all of this done on the pretext of not inundating hospitals with too many patients at once?

Less rationalism, please

I’ll give them this: the Guardian has a knack of unearthing quirky opinions. Another of their popular Sweden articles, which almost has to be read to be believed, is by Tae Hoon Kim, a South Korean based in Stockholm. Kim moans that he is “worried” and “not reassured” by the Swedish government’s virus-wrangling.

Kim also thinks that Sweden’s “tendency to regard coronavirus just as a serious public health problem… something that requires the careful observance of rules set out by health experts” has got them into trouble. Instead, he prefers to think of the loop of RNA as “an ‘invisible enemy’… an existential problem that calls for the state to suspend civil liberties.”

Also on rt.com Why is the MSM working overtime to try to show that Covid-19 is dangerous to CHILDREN - when so few of them have died?

Perhaps Kim would feel more comfortable in, er, I don’t know, South Korea? There, the government would know his exact whereabouts at all times via a compulsory app on his phone, and he would have to tell them the nature of his business everywhere he went. But what do I know? Maybe Kim is right, and we do need more woo-woo philosophizing and op-ed psychobabble. Perhaps a few more celebrity renditions of Kumbaya? As long as we’re spitballing…

Swedes 1, Turnips 0

It is remarkable that even in a year with no Eurovision, Sweden has managed to make such a splash in the Western media. It is fascinating to watch them tie themselves in knots as they try to reconcile their image of Sweden as a progressive paradise with their new notion of a Scandinavian banana republic running a callous Darwinian experiment in which the old are sacrificed for the empty pleasures of the young.

Oh, how the MSM would have loved it if the one country to deviate from conventional wisdom had been Hungary, or the Philippines, or best of all, Russia. How much easier the smear job would have been had it been some poor, backward Latin American or Asian country, or anywhere run by a “literally Hitler” strongman-type politician. But they had no such luck; sensible, freethinking Sweden had to go and deviate from the party line.

No matter how much the MSM bury their heads in the sand, Sweden is running the safest, most responsible reaction to the outbreak in a world gone mad. The real experimenters are the lockdown evangelists. They are the ones playing with people’s lives, and it is high time they accepted that responsibility.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.