COVID-19, the Swedish 'Experiment', and Me

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2020 Sep 4;273:211-216. doi: 10.3233/SHTI200642.


In this personal vision paper the Swedish approach to COVID-19 prompts an exploration of how and why assuming individual rationality coupled with minimal social restriction may be as good a solution as any and better than most. A COVID sub-model is developed and populated with probabilities for four outcomes of infecting another person (asymptomatic, sick, hospitalized, dead), conditional on three observable characteristics (sex, age, and BMI), and (dis)utilities for three categories of person (nearest/dearest, friends/colleagues and unknown others) experiencing those outcomes. The implications for a liberal democracy are drawn, based on the assumptions that individual citizens will and should maximise their informed expected utility, exhibiting 'commons sense' as well as common sense.

Keywords: COVID-19; Sweden; common sense; commons sense; coronavirus; expected utility; individual rationality; social restriction.

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections* / transmission
  • Friends*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Pandemics*
  • Pneumonia, Viral*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sweden