Fredrik Rubensson - Flickr

Elon Musk on Lockdowns: ‘Sweden Was Right’

Instead of rebuking Sweden and states such as South Dakota, we should be thanking them.

By guest author Jon Miltimore
October 19, 2020

When people think of polarizing countries, Sweden rarely leaps to mind. At least that was the case before 2020.

Sweden’s decision to take a “lighter touch” to the coronavirus pandemic—foregoing strict lockdowns and relying primarily on social responsibility to encourage social distancing—has made it a lighting rod for criticism.

Many commentators claimed Sweden was behaving recklessly and selfishly by refusing to enforce an economic lockdown like most other nations around the world.

Though its per capita death rate remained well below European neighbors such as the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Spain—each of which enforced strict lockdowns—Sweden became, as one CBS report claimed, “an example of how not to handle COVID-19.”

As I previously observed, however, the fact that Sweden was coming under fire had less to do with the results of its policies than the nature of its policies. There were far better “cautionary tale” examples than Sweden—such as Belgium, a nation with a similar population whose per capita death toll is 50 percent higher than Sweden’s.

Unlike Sweden, however, Belgium had a strict lockdown that, as the BBC reported back in May, was enforced with “drones in parks and fines for anyone breaking social distancing rules.” But nobody cared about Belgium because they had followed the lockdown script.

Months later, Sweden’s decision to avoid lockdowns only looks better. While much of Europe is experiencing a second wave of the virus, Sweden’s numbers are a stark contrast. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization and thousands of physicians and public health officials are now arguing against the use of lockdowns as a method of taming the virus.

The reason for this is obvious. While the harms of lockdowns are clear—trillions of dollars in economic losses, widespread mental health deterioration, and social decay—there is no compelling evidence that lockdowns reduced COVID-19 deaths or the spread of the virus.

The results of Sweden’s strategy become clearer with every passing week. And more people are beginning to notice.

“Sweden was right,” Tesla founder Elon Musk recently tweeted.