This afternoon I will participate in the panel at a webinar, hosted by Institute of Global Affairs, the School of Public Policy and SITE at the Stockholm School of Economics. The theme for the event is “The Swedish Exception: early lessons from Sweden’s different approach tol COVID-19“. Being no expert on Covid-19 my contribution will be to comment on the role of universities and on the challenges we all face when dealing with uncertainty. Thus the new corona virus does not come with a manual as to how to handle it, be it in the medical realm or in the society at large.

The organizer describes the content of the seminar with these words:

Sweden has been pursuing a different approach to suppressing the epidemic curve, relying mainly on voluntary measures and keeping more of the economy open. The main theory has been that the population would respond to advice from the government because of the strong level of trust in Swedish society – the citizens’ trust in government institutions, the government’s trust in the citizens, and the trust among citizens. Also, the approach of allowing the development of “herd immunity” got traction.

Some aspects of this approach appear to have worked well, other aspects less so. The results so far point to a high death toll compared to other Nordic countries which have taken tougher measures, though the jury is still out on the long term outcome. The panel will draw early lessons from the Swedish experiment that could be relevant for emerging economies and developing countries that, for one reason or another, cannot afford massive lockdowns.

The “Swedish strategy” is debated and also questioned on the international arena right now. Here at Karolinska Institutet we daily recieve a lot of phone calls and e-mails with questions concering the approach and requests for comments from our researchers.

The other panelists this afternoon are Peter Baldwin, New York University of California, Sara Hagemann, Deputy Dean, LSE School of Public Policy, Lars Trägårdh, Ersta Sköndal Bräcke University and Erik Berglof, Director, Institute of Global Affairs, LSE School of Public Policy.

The event is part of the LSE Series on COVID-19 Crisis Management and Post-Crisis Reconstruction – lessons from the past and early insights from the current crisis

The webinar is open for public, you’ll find the livestream here between 16.30 and 18.00, Swedish time zone.

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