It has been an awful year since the pandemic struck and today’s numbers compared to one year ago tell a story of neglect and misleading news.
If you read the two main Finnish newspapers, (which only Finns can understand), you would think that the present government here has done a terrible job in managing the pandemic. However, the correct view is that Finland has performed exceptionally well, even though the death rate could have been lower if we had a more flexible Constitutional Law.
It appears that our legal framework for the Constitution was based on war-time conditions and was not designed for pandemics. This means that the government must seek to make radical changes to Constitutional Law to encompass the lock-down requirements that successful pandemic management policies require.
The good news is that a small group of rich countries got it right, while another group of rich countries fell to the bottom of the list.
This second group includes the worlds most powerful country with one of the highest healthcare costs anywhere in the world.
Here are the figures so you can compare for yourself – they are from the same source (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/): Only four countries have performed consistently better in managing the pandemic during this last year when measured in terms of infections or deaths per 100 000 of the total population.
The same four countries (Japan, South Korea, Norway and Finland) have stayed in almost the same position on both measures after the pandemic has ravaged through the countries.
Their GDP per capita or relative healthcare costs cannot be seen as the main reasons for their relatively better performance – for example, Finland’s healthcare costs per capita are almost the same as the UK’s – a much larger country where economies of scale and population intensity should work in their favour.
All four countries probably have populations who listen to their political leaders and healthcare experts. Is that because they are more self-disciplined or better educated? Or is it because they have relative fewer immigrants and are geographically isolated? So far there are no conclusive studies on the reasons, but the differences with the rest of the western world that enjoy the same of higher living standards are striking.
Sweden, the former star of Europe according to the Financial Times, has terrible figures that are five and ten times higher in relation to infections and deaths per 100 000 of the population compared to the top four.
The other countries at the bottom of this list are all large rich countries. Belgium is the only exception in terms of population size and their position does not bode well when considering that they are the centre of Europe for the EU and for NATO.
The results for the US and the UK probably can be explained by the lack of proper coverage for public healthcare – the US healthcare costs per capita are more than double that of Finland according to OECD data:
In conclusion, it is clear that we badly need to have a comprehensive analysis of the reasons for the great disparity in these relative numbers.