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  • Writer's pictureLeon Grice

Nordic variations

In a recent blog "Europe's second wave?" we highlighted a selection of European countries which we are predicting near term, increased COVID-19 spread and we promised a blog on the Nordic countries. That Europe analysis was a few days ago. The CloseAssociate COVID-19 modeller predictions haven't changed substantially since then and Europe is heading for a second wave.

But let's look at three of the Nordic countries: Norway, Sweden and Finland. Remember our focus is on the reproduction value because that is the best indicator for what is going to happen. The focus of other analysts is new case data which tells you where things are bad today. We aim to predict the next 10-14 days.

Norway (Reff=2.0, 31 new cases on 19 August) and Finland (Reff=2.2, 37 new cases on 20 August) have the highest Reff values but compared to Sweden they have relatively fewer new case numbers. The charts below taken from our modeller show very similar graphs. With Reff at 2.0 or above new cases could double in Finland and Norway in the next two weeks.

On the hand Sweden (Reff=1.2, 399 new cases on 20 August) has a lower Reff than Finland and Norway but with fewer mandatory social restrictions it is tolerating higher new cases per day. The new cases are reasonably consistent and are following a regular sawtooth weekly pattern when there is no testing reported on weekends. The UK has a similar sawtooth pattern. Our method for calculating Reff has been tuned to look through these kinds of anomalies.

In May, June and July Sweden's policies seemed to fail to contain the spread of the disease and new cases peaked at 2500 on 29 June. That June spike must have led to behavioural changes which reduced Reff and on 23 June it went below 1.0. That 23 June Reff point predicted a fall in cases two weeks later. Reff went above 1.0 again on 8 August and is continuing to increase. It has had two weeks above 1.0 and if nothing changes Sweden could be on track for another spike in cases like they had in June.

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