Sweden’s Coronavirus Failure Started Long Before the Pandemic – Foreign Policy

A woman sits outside her nursing home in Stockholm on May 4. Sweden, whose softer approach to the coronavirus has garnered international attention, admits it failed to adequately protect the elderly, with around half of its COVID-19 deaths occurring among nursing home residents. JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images

The world has long looked to Sweden as a model society. The Nordic country of 10 million is known for its robust welfare state—where citizens enjoy a high standard of living, equal rights, and social security. In the past few decades, Sweden has also taken a place on the international stage as a humanitarian superpower, starting in the 1990s when it accepted 100,000 refugees fleeing the carnage of the Balkans and later during the Syrian crisis when it took in more refugees per capita than any other European country.

But that image has been questioned over the past few months. Sweden has become a global outlier in ignoring calls for coronavirus lockdowns. While Italy’s piazzas were empty
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