The Swedish analysis of the corona virus and the need of understanding globalization

10:35 by Hubert Fromlet, Kalmar

The corona virus is a top topic also in Sweden. This should not be a surprise since Sweden currently is ranked as number 13 among the countries with most corona infections (as of March 9) https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries. This is a relatively high position.

Official communication about the corona virus is mainly handled by the Public Health Agency of Sweden (PHAS, Folkhälsomyndigheten) https://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/the-public-health-agency-of-sweden/about-us/our-mission/. One important task of PHAS is “to provide expert support to investigations of suspected or confirmed outbreaks of communicable diseases and to maintain laboratory preparedness needed for effective communicable disease control in the country”.

There is no doubt that an infection by the corona virus must be regarded as a “communicable disease”.

The lagging understanding of globalization

In my view, the PHAS has shown serious shortcomings in understanding globalization and its consequences. Sure, the PHAS admitted that developments and trends in China were underestimated https://omni.se/tegnell-medger-miss-i-virus-bedomning-trodde-att-kina-skulle-fa-stopp-pa-det/a/pLkM9E. However, if PHAS had looked for more information of global forces in general, global productions chains and China’s close integration in the world economy, the underestimation of China’s corona conditions could at least showed up milder.

And now adding that corona infections in China are slowing down is also a quite risky official statement by PHAS. Theoretically, it may be the case but there is no applicable evidence. From the economic area we know that official Chinese statistics often are not credible enough, particularly when it comes to the calculation of GDP. How much correctness is in the statistics of March 9 that China on that day had less new cases than Sweden, i.e. only 44 versus 57? Obviously, the PHAS could have been (more) in touch with regular users of Chinese statistics and the experience of these analyzing people.

Another example of insufficient consideration of global impact on the spread of the corona virus can be picked from the too narrow view on the imported corona virus by Swedish skiers in South Tyrol. PHAS believed that the end of the Swedish winter holidays for school kids a week ago would mean a peak for new corona cases – but at the time forgetting that Italians and people with recent trips to Italy nowadays get around in the whole world https://www.dn.se/nyheter/sverige/antalet-coronafall-i-sverige-kan-ha-natt-toppen-kommer-snart-att-klinga-av/. This is globalization in real life and on the corporate level.

A very strong bilateral view on global virus risks has become outdated!

Conclusion:

The Swedish example shows the cooperation between government organizations certainly should include different areas like the environment, institutions and psychology – but also more frequently the characteristics of modern globalization as shown above.

Hubert Fromlet
Affiliate Professor at the School of Business and Economics, Linnaeus University
Editorial board

 

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