Sweden has taken a different approach to the virus than America. The number of cases in Sweden continues to drop. As this is going on Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s top epidemiologist is on record saying he sees “no point” to mandating masks in public.
“With numbers diminishing very quickly in Sweden, we see no point in wearing a face mask in Sweden, not even on public transport… That Sweden has come down to these levels is very promising… The curves are going down and the curves for the seriously ill are beginning to approach zero…”
Newsweek reports Sweden’s death rate from the virus is now lower than Italy’s, the U.K.’s, and Spain’s despite never implementing a full-scale lockdown.
As of Sunday, the latest death rate in Sweden (deaths per 100,000 people) was reported to be 56.40. The figure is lower than that reported in the U.K. (69.60), Spain (60.88) and Italy (58.16), according to the latest report Sunday by Johns Hopkins University.
The U.K. currently has the world’s fourth highest death toll, while Spain and Italy (which have the sixth highest and eighth highest death tolls, respectively) were formerly Europe’s two countries worst hit by the outbreak.
Sweden’s latest case-fatality ratio (portion of deaths compared to total cases) was reported to be 7.1 percent. The figure is more than half the percentage reported in the U.K. (15.1 percent), half that of Italy and Belgium (each reporting 14.2 percent) and nearly half that of France (13.4 percent), according to Johns Hopkins University.
How much value? Who decides if mandatory use is reasonable?
From the Daily Wire, in the past 14 days, new infections per 100,000 people in Sweden have dropped 46%. Conversely, Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, and The Netherlands have seen spikes between 58% and 206% in cases per 100,000 people over a 14-day period. Last Tuesday, Sweden reported no new deaths, bringing the toll to 5,702.
Despite Tegnell’s optimism, he does find it “worrying” that other countries are seeing a second spike. This comes after supposedly bringing the virus under control. “The positive trend is reversing, with an increase in the number of cases in Spain, Romania and Belgium, among others…”
The Netherlands too announced it will not institute a face mask mandate. They state research shows social distancing rules prove more effective at combating the virus than masks. “Because from a medical perspective there is no proven effectiveness of masks, the Cabinet has decided that there will be no national obligation for wearing non-medical masks…” Tamara van Ark, Netherlands’ Minister for Medical Care.
RIVM chief Jaap van Dissel acknowledges studies indicating masks may be useful in slowing the spread of COVID-19. He argues incorrectly worn masks coupled with weak social distancing guidelines could help the virus spread. “So we think that if you’re going to use masks (in a public setting) … then you must give good training for it…” Citizens in the Netherlands are only required to wear masks in airports and when taking public transportation.
So is wearing masks pointless? Pointless may be an overstatement. They may have value. The real questions are: How much value and who decides if mandatory use is reasonable? Since there is no longer an epidemic; we should all be free to make our own decisions. We need to use common sense and respect each other’s space.