FINNS have received fewer positive results from coronavirus tests than their counterparts anywhere else in Europe, reveal statistics compiled by Helsingin Sanomat.
Only 2.6 per cent of the Finnish population have tested positive for the virus since the onset of the pandemic in the first half of last year, representing the lowest share in all of the 45 countries compared by the daily newspaper.
The incidence of infections has been low also in Iceland (3.6%) and Norway (3.6%). In Europe, the virus has caused the highest number of infections relative to population in Montenegro (21.4%), Andorra (19.9%), San Marino (16.1%), Czech Republic (15.9%), Slovenia (14.5%) and Lithuania (12.9%).
The statistics are based on data on Finland from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). The data on other countries was derived from Our World in Data.
While the 14-day incidence rate for infections is presently rising in Finland, the focus in monitoring the pandemic has shifted from infections to hospitalisations and vaccination coverage.
The country has fared well also in regards to mortality, with the number of coronavirus-related deaths equalling 0.02 per cent of the population. The only country with a lower mortality rate is Iceland (0.01%).
Deaths linked to the virus, for example, have been seven times as common in Sweden than in Finland, highlighted Helsingin Sanomat.
The newspaper reminded that with the epidemic still continuing, it remains difficult to draw any far-reaching conclusions about the factors behind the apparent success of Finland. It appears, however, that one of the factors is that the country has not relied steadfastly on any single approach: the restrictions have been timed opportunely, vaccinations have progressed better than average and economy has been able to function relatively well.
The effort has also garnered international recognition.
Der Spiegel in July ranked Finland first in a comparison of the coronavirus measures adopted in 154 countries worldwide. Its analysis took into account four factors: the number of excess deaths caused by the virus, restrictions on social life and individual freedoms, share of at least partially vaccinated residents, and the difference between projected and actual gross domestic product.
Also Mika Salminen, the head of health security at THL, has drawn attention to the balance between various restrictions and the enormous effort undertaken to kick-start vaccinations. Salminen in August said to Aamulehti that overall countries that have not locked themselves into a single approach seem to have fared well.
He also reminded that such comparisons are not fair, because it is considerably more difficult to prevent infections in populous countries with larger cities and smaller houses.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT