Debate Magazine

Stupid People Who Think They've Said Something Clever

Posted on the 25 September 2020 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth

I idly watched a few minutes of Jeremy Vine this morning, they were discussing covid-19.
There was a very sensible lady called Beverley (surname escaped me) who was recommending a Swedish style approach.
Iain Dale, the man who manages to be wrong on nearly everything, started bleating that Sweden has a much lower population density, 25 people per sq km, against 270 in the UK, as if that were relevant to anything.
Beverley gave an exasperated look, but wasn't given the chance to slap this down. The point being, this statistic is completely irrelevant to anything.
Firstly, the populated areas of Sweden are just as densely populated as the populated parts of the UK. The uninhabited parts are irrelevant. Most of Scotland is nigh empty - they all live in towns and villages as well - so their infection rates are the same as England's.
Secondly, what matters, as far as infection rates are concerned, is how many people you come into close contact with every day i.e. how many elderly in a care home and how many non-residents (workers or visting relatives) go in and out; how many children are in a class at school and how many teachers take each class; how many people there are in each workplace; how many people you sit near in the pub or on public transport; how many people live in each home.
It is quite possible that Swedes come into close contact with fewer people each day (if it were even possible to calculate it, which you can't) and have smaller households than we do , but it's not going to be wildly different. Which is why Sweden's rate of covid-19 deaths per million population is similar to the UK's (581 against 616).

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