Sweden, a relatively egalitarian and functional democracy with quality infrastructure and a world-class welfare state, is the most favorable possible context for testing the Republican theory for dealing with COVID-19 (i.e.¯\_(ツ)_/¯). The results have been…extremely bad:
Ever since the coronavirus emerged in Europe, Sweden has captured international attention by conducting an unorthodox, open-air experiment. It has allowed the world to examine what happens in a pandemic when a government allows life to carry on largely unhindered.
This is what has happened: Not only have thousands more people died than in neighboring countries that imposed lockdowns, but Sweden’s economy has fared little better.
“They literally gained nothing,” said Jacob F. Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “It’s a self-inflicted wound, and they have no economic gains.”
That last graf is the key. Again, the idea that there’s anything remotely like a zero-sum tradeoff between controlling the pandemic and restoring the recovery is completely false. Opening the economy without suppressing the virus gets you much worse public health results with no corresponding economic benefits. If you want to try to restore the economy and anything resembling life prior to March 2020, you need to suppress the virus, something that many countries have now shown is possible. There is no Plan B. Alas, all signs is that Trump and his minions will prefer denial.