I like the Swedish Model (but not for the obvious reason)

  • Weighing trade-off between lock down and saving the economy
  • Best trade off to preserving economy is not just social distancing, also social responsibility

A logistics hub in Klang sits quiet due to Malaysia's lock down in trying to surpress the impact of the Coronavirus.
I like the Swedish Model (but not for the obvious reason)Whose lock down approach is best? New Zealand's has resulted in only one death.

Taiwan's battle against coronavirus began in late 2019 and makes a strong case for acting early and staying vigilant to avoid a second spike.

Denmark was also one of the first to enter a lock down but is now ready to return to normal life, opening schools and offices for the first time in a month.

Unlike other countries, Sweden avoided a lock down altogether, and as a result will likely preserve the best economy in Europe.

Regardless of which you personally think is the best approach, there are just as many who have the opposing opinion —- equally defensible with pros and cons —- and sometimes living with you under the very same roof!

What we do know is that any form of lock down will adversely affect the economy, so we owe it to ourselves to ask the following questions:

1. Is it indisputably clear that lock downs slow the rate of new infections?

2. Do we know exactly what physical precautions are effective in a lock down?

3. Have we confirmed the properties of the virus spreading in air, water, and on surfaces?

4. What proportion of the public have already been exposed and successfully fought off the coronavirus?

5. Is it worth focusing and restricting the lock down on at-risk age groups and red-zone areas?

And the main question:

What is the trade off between the lock down and saving the economy?


Need to think compassionately but also strategically

Without drawing a line in the sand somewhere, then the logical conclusion is that lock downs can only fully end when a vaccine is available to the general public - even if that’s 12-18 months away.

These questions are not meant to be hyperbolic; instead they are meant to illustrate that we must make a tough choice.

When we make tough choices, we must think compassionately but also strategically. This is true in personal matters and affairs of the state alike.

China’s example is worth noting here. Their restrictions, at least in Wuhan, were the most draconian by anyone so far.

Still, once their situation stabilised they prioritised economic revival over the threat of a second wave of infections. If China’s strategy is right, the implications are immense —there will be a shift in the balance of world power, where the scale will tip more towards China.

There will inevitably be winners and losers from the economic fall out of the crisis. Though we harbour no ill-will towards others, we owe it to ourselves to aim for the best result for our people, our society, and our economy.

We must appreciate that there is a trade-off between lock down and saving the economy. This is what makes today’s decision on the MCO extension a particularly difficult one, yet it is our social responsibility to respect it fully.

Perhaps the best lesson we can learn from the Swedes is that the best trade off for preserving our economy is not just social distancing, but also social responsibility. If we work together, with consideration for each other, then we have every reason to expect the best possible outcome.

Dr Rais Hussin is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Emir Research

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