Analysis by Keith Rankin
I was concerned to read last night that Greta Thunberg and her father almost certainly have Covid19; however, because of very restrictive testing criteria used in Sweden, they have not been tested. And I heard yesterday, on a Radio New Zealand news bulletin, a story about how there are virtually no mobility restrictions in Sweden; former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt stated that Swedes were however staying home voluntarily to a large extent, reflecting the reserved Swedish character.
I also heard that the United Kingdom has only being reporting hospital deaths from Covid19; apparently the UK deaths in homes and rest-homes will be included in future. This reflects an undercount of British deaths from people who tested positive. Many at home deaths in Sweden, however, may never be recorded as Covid19.
I was particularly surprised and concerned that Sweden is taking a diametrically opposite approach to New Zealand. That is partly because Sweden was caught unawares, and rapidly. But it also suggests that Sweden’s authorities are happy to let the disease take its course with a likely final death toll of over 20,000 people. (I gather the Netherlands is also taking a similar approach, heading for a final death toll of 50,000.) It also suggests that the data from Sweden is subject to an even larger undercount than the UK data. (I think I trust German data. Germany appears to have tested very widely; its death toll is lower than elsewhere in Europe because of testing and tracing, much as occurred in Asia.)
In today’s chart, Italy now serves as a reference point, and its curves are flattening. Known infection incidence and death rates in Italy are still much higher than Sweden and United Kingdom; but that may be mainly due to Sweden being a week behind Italy; United Kingdom even further behind. It now appears that Sweden may have a bigger undercount than Italy. Italy is headed for a final death toll of 100,000.
Of special statistical significance for Sweden, its known cases have been on the same exponential path for the last two weeks (cases doubling weekly); and, over that same time period, its recorded Covid19 deaths have been on a consistently faster growth path, with deaths increasing 10-fold from 13 March (day 13) to 27 March (day 37).
In the meantime, United Kingdom Covid19 death numbers are approaching 10 percent of its known case numbers, a situation that Italy faced a week ago.
While I can see Sweden, Netherlands and United Kingdom recording an eventual combined total of 200,000 Covid19 deaths, I remain confident that New Zealand’s final Covid19 toll will be about 100.