COVID-19: Revealing Figures from Sweden



A comparison of the mortality rates of the first 9 months in 2020 with previous years confirm that this is a serious but not unprecedented pandemic


By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 23 November 2020,




One of the most important developments in current world politics is the unprecedented offensive of the ruling class to contain the pandemic by a wave of repression and attacks on fundamental democratic rights of the popular masses. In fact, the policy of putting a whole society under curfew orders has not been seen in the Western imperialist countries since the end of World War II in 1945. This is why the RCIT has characterized this policy from early on as the COVID-19 Counterrevolution. [1]


All these unprecedented attacks are justified by the claim that COVID-19 would be the worst pandemic since the so-called Spanish flu after World War I. However, we have demonstrated in a number of works, like several other critical democrats and scientists, that this is simply a lie. (See e.g. the so-called Great Barrington Declaration with which we have dealt in a recently published essay). [2]




The Real Interests of the Ruling Class




We have provided a number of examples demonstrating that other diseases and pandemics in the past years and decades have been as deadly as or even worse than COVID-19. Likewise, we pointed out that the Lockdown policy fails as particularly effective instrument against the pandemic and has devastating social, economic and mental consequences for the society. We concluded from our analysis that the real motive of the ruling class’ for the reactionary Lockdown policy is not concern for public health. It is rather to advocate the political and economic interests of the monopoly bourgeoisie. These interests, as we outlined in our works, can be summarized in:


a) The expansion of the police and surveillance state in a period of massive political instability in which the ruling class strives to repress class struggles and popular uprisings (in autumn 2019 a pre-revolutionary world situation had opened up with a global wave or mass struggles which was only ended by the beginning of the global Lockdown policy in spring 2020);


b) Finding a scapegoat for the Third Depression of the capitalist world economy (which began in late 2019);


c) Strengthening the role of the bourgeois national state in order to promote chauvinism against other states (in particular rivaling Great Powers);


d) Promoting the market position of the largest monopolies, in particular in industries like drugs, biotechnology, robotics, Artificial Intelligence and the whole IT industry, the whole online retail sector, etc.


As a result, we have noted that the ruling elite increasingly turn towards a policy of Chauvinist State Bonapartism and state-capitalist regulation. [3]




Sweden: How Devastating is the Pandemic in a Country which has not imposed any Lockdown until now?




Sweden, one of the few countries which have not imposed any lockdown (nor any other enforcement measures) until now has become a main target of attack both by the global bourgeoisie as well as by the Lockdown Left, i.e. the “left-wing” supporters of the bonapartist policy. It is exactly because Sweden avoided a lockdown that this country is a useful example to examine the true severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.


We did already show in the past, using the figures available, that Sweden suffered less from the pandemic than various other imperialist countries which imposed draconic lockdowns (e.g. Belgium, Britain, Spain, Italy and France). [4] Since there is a controversy about the methodology of counting COVID-19 deaths and comparing countries, we think it is most useful to look at the figures for total mortality. For this we use the official data of Sweden’s public health authorities. Using these figures, we did already demonstrate that the total mortality rate in the first half of 2020 has not been substantially higher than it was in the past two, three decades which reflects that the pandemic is not “unprecedentedly deadly”, as the Lockdown supporters tirelessly claim. [5]


As we are nearing the close of this year, more and more data emerge about the development of total mortality which enables observers to make a comparison with past years. A few days ago, Statistics Sweden – the official statistical authority of the country – published new data which help to evaluate the severity of the current pandemic. So what do these figures tell us?


In Table 1 we reproduce the figures for the first nine months of 2020 and compare them with the same period in the year before. As we can see, mortality increased by 9.9% and mortality per capita (since the total population became slightly larger) increased by 9.3%.




Table 1. Sweden: Total Population, Total Mortality and Total Mortality Per Capita, January-September 2019 and 2020 [6]


                                                                                                                Jan-Sept 2020                                       Jan-Sept 2019


Population                                                                                          10,373,225                                           10,313,447


Death                                                                                                    72,312                                                   65,776


Number of deaths per 100 000 inhabitants                              697.1                                                      637.8


Mortality Jan-Sept 2020 compared to Jan-Sept 2019:   +9.9%


Mortality per capita Jan-Sept 2020 compared to Jan-Sept 2019: +9.3%




While this represents a clear increase of mortality compared with the year before, it is in no way unprecedented. For example, 97,008 people had died in Sweden in 1993 – at a time when the country had a substantially smaller population. In 1990, Sweden had a population of 8.5 million people which has increased to 10.3 million today. Likewise, 2000 was also a year with substantial excess mortality. [7] in fact, certain oscillations in the mortality figures can be observed in every country and sometimes such changes are significantly more distinct. For example, in Austria the number of death in 2015 was 6.2% higher than the year before (78.252 resp. 83.073). [8] This increase is within the range of oscillating development of mortality and, hence, it was hardly noticed by the public.




Comparison with the Mortality Figures of 2018




Furthermore, one has to note that 2019 was the year with the lowest mortality rate in the whole past decade. If we compare the mortality rate of the first half year in 2020 with the same period in 2018, the growth of mortality becomes even less drastic. Mortality in January-June 2020 was 6.4% higher than in the same period in 2018 and mortality per capita has increased by 5.2%. In Table 2 we reproduce the figures for the period January-June for the past three years.




Table 2. Preliminary population statistics for Sweden, first six months of 2018-2020 [9]


                                                                                                2020                       2019                       2018


Population                                                                          10,352,390           10,281,189           10,171,524


Death                                                                                    51,405                   44,857                   48,033


Number of deaths per 100 000 inhabitants              496.6                      436.3                      472.2


Mortality Jan-Jun 2020 compared to Jan- Jun 2019: +14.6%


Mortality per capita Jan- Jun 2020 compared to Jan- Jun 2019: +13.8%


Mortality Jan-Jun 2020 compared to Jan- Jun 2018: +6.4%


Mortality per capita Jan- Jun 2020 compared to Jan- Jun 2018: +5.2%




In this context it is important to bear in mind that while mortality in the first half of 2020 was above the average, mortality in third quarter was below the average. [10] This has been most likely caused by the fact that a number of people who died in Q2 by COVID-19 would have died in Q3 by other causes. So if we add the monthly mortality rate figures for the January – September period in 2020 and compare them with the same period in 2018, we see that the figures for the mortality rate per capita was only 1.5% higher in the COVID-19 year. (See Table 3)




Table 3. Number of deaths per 100 000 inhabitants per month, 2020 and 2018, Sweden [11]


                                                                2020                                       2018


January                                                 78.2                                        84.2


February                                               75.5                                        88.2


March                                                   80.1                                        90.1


April                                                      102.0                                      76.9


May                                                       83.4                                        66.3


June                                                       71.8                                        65.6


July                                                        66.1                                        71.1


August                                                  65.0                                        66.3


September                                            65.2                                        68.2


Total                                                       687.3                                      676.9


Increase in 2020 compared with 2018: +1.5%




In this context we should point out that a Swedish blog focused on economic and statistical issues has published an article in which the author claims that the mortality rate in the first 9 months of this year was even the third least deadly year ever recorded so far. [12] However, as the author uses Swedish-language statistics we have not been able to verify this claim.




A Pandemic which is Politically Exploited by the Ruling Class




However, what is clear and evident – and also confirmed by other observers in Sweden [13] – is the fact that the mortality rate in 2020 so far does not reflect the existence of an “unprecedented dramatic pandemic”. Furthermore, these figures also demonstrate that the “Swedish way” without lockdown and other enforcement measures does definitely not result in a higher mortality rates than countries where governments have imposed draconic Lockdowns.


We repeat that the hysteric propaganda of the capitalist governments about the “worst pandemic ever” which would justify curfew for the popular masses and unprecedented restrictions of democratic rights lack any scientific basis!


The fact that more and more data become public which reveal the real nature of the COVID-19 pandemic will help to counter the reactionary fear and hysteria propaganda of the ruling class. At the beginning, the RCIT was part of a very small minority which had to swim against the all-powerful stream of the COVID-19 Counterrevolution. But in the past few weeks we have seen important changes. In various countries in Europe, smaller and larger popular protests are taking place. [14] In addition there are also a growing number of medical scientists who withstand the pressure of the governments and who criticize the panicking COVID hysteria and the anti-democratic Lockdown policy. Times are changing and sooner or later popular hatred will make the governments tremble!


[1] The RCIT has analyzed the COVID-19 counterrevolution extensively since its beginning. Starting from 2 February we have published more than 50 pamphlets, essays, articles and statements plus a book which are all compiled at a special sub-page on our website: In particular we refer readers to the RCIT Manifesto: COVID-19: A Cover for a Major Global Counterrevolutionary Offensive. We are at a turning point in the world situation as the ruling classes provoke a war-like atmosphere in order to legitimize the build-up of chauvinist state-bonapartist regimes, 21 March 2020, In addition, we draw attention to our book by Michael Pröbsting: The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution: What It Is and How to Fight It. A Marxist analysis and strategy for the revolutionary struggle, RCIT Books, April 2020, See also our very first article on this issue by Almedina Gunić: Coronavirus: "I am not a Virus"... but WE will be the Cure! The chauvinist campaign behind the “Wuhan Coronavirus” hysteria and the revolutionary answer, 2 February 2020,; Michael Pröbsting: The Second Wave of the COVID-19 Counterrevolution. On the ruling class strategy in the current conjuncture, its inner contradictions and the perspectives of the workers and popular resistance, 20 July 2020,; Michael Pröbsting: The Police and Surveillance State in the Post-Lockdown Phase. A global review of the ruling class’s plans of expanding the bonapartist state machinery amidst the COVID-19 crisis, 21 May 2020,

[2] The Great Barrington Declaration,; Michael Pröbsting: COVID-19: The Great Barrington Declaration is indeed Great! Numerous medical scientists protest against the reactionary lockdown policy, 11 October 2020,

[3] For a more detailed discussion of the new policy of the ruling class we refer to chapter II. “On the nature of the COVID-19 global counterrevolution” in the above-mentioned book “The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution: What It Is and How to Fight It.” See also the two above-mentioned essays “The Second Wave of the COVID-19 Counterrevolution” and “The Police and Surveillance State in the Post-Lockdown Phase”.

[4] Worldometers: COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic,, accessed on 23 November 2020

[5] See e.g. chapter “Telling figures for Europe, Sweden and Ischgl” in the above-mentioned essay “The Second Wave of the COVID-19 Counterrevolution.”; see also:

[8] Statistik Austria: Gestorbene nach ausgewählten Merkmalen, Lebenserwartung und Säuglingssterblichkeit seit 2009,

[10] See on this e.g. Statistics Sweden: Excess mortality in Sweden is followed by mortality deficit, 15.10.2020,

[11] Statistics Sweden: Number of deaths per 100 000 inhabitants per month, 2015-2020, We are aware that the added sum of the nine months is not identical with the figure provided in Table 1 (687.3 resp. 697.1). The reason for this small discrepancy most likely is the fact that in Table 1 we took the exact figures provided for the whole period of January to June. In contrast, the figures provided in Table 3 (and which we added) are the figures for each months, i.e. they correspond to a constantly changing size of the population.

[12] September 2020 least deadly month ever in Sweden - 2020 third least deadly year ever so far, 24.10.20204,

[13] See e.g. Emanuel Karlsten: Sweden’s two corona months are not more deadly than the flu of the 90s – but that does not mean that everything is normal, 18 June 2020,; Emanuel Karlsten: Number of deaths in Sweden during the pandemic – compared to previous years’ mortality, 13 October 2020,

[14] We refer to our latest documents: Michael Pröbsting: COVID-19: Watch Your Back, Lockdown Gangsters! A new wave of draconic Lockdowns sweeps Europe but popular resistance and criticism of medical scientists are increasing, 21 October 2020,; RCIT: COVID-19: Madrid’s Workers and Poor Protest against the Reactionary Lockdown Regime! Support the struggle against anti-democratic attacks and for expansion of the public health service! 2 October 2020, There are also ongoing protests in Israel against the corrupt Netanyahu government and its anti-democratic Lockdown policy albeit they are of a more contradictory nature. see on this e.g. Yossi Schwartz: Israel: Draconian Law against the Right to Demonstrate, 01.10.2020, and Adam Smith: Israel: What is behind a Second Lockdown? 19.09.2020,