Category Archives: Politics


Swine flu vaccination program – is it worth it?

One might ask oneself if the public vaccination program in Sweden (and in many other countries) is worth the costs of it. Of course, this is not an easy question, as many parameters plays a role in this decision. How important is the saving of lives, how severe is the side effects, how much is an individual person’s health worth, etc. On a global scale we have to wait a year or more until the pandemic is over, or at least until next Spring, before we can draw any conclusions on if the vaccination program has been effective enough, or if it was necessary at all. However, as the spreading of the disease has increased dramatically over the last weeks e.g. in Ukraine, but also in Sweden, the importance of the vaccination program and that the government has acted fast has been painfully underscored. However, my purpose of this article is not to discuss the vaccine itself, nor the side effects, or anything else related to the vaccine. Instead, I am aiming for if the costs of the program in real numbers will payback for the government, and thus the Swedish economy.

Simply put, I will just do my math homework using the swine flu statistics. I will make the following assumptions:

  • If nobody was vaccinated, 10% of the Swedish people would suffer from the swine flu. This seems to be a rather safe expectation, it is more likely that much more than 10% will be sick without any vaccinations, but let’s keep the numbers within safe margins.
  • None of these people will die or require more complicated medical care. We already know that this statement is untrue. However, this assumption makes the math much easier. Also, if people require more complicated care, the costs would go up, not down, so just keep in mind that my expectations are (again) set too low.
  • A typical influenza victim needs to stay home from work for two weeks, and is then fully recovered. Let’s just assume that people are smart and stay home until they don’t carry the disease anymore.
  • The estimated costs of the vaccination program are 3 billion swedish kronor (about 430 million USD). This is based on an estimation made in August by Sveriges Kommuner och Landsting (SKL). The real costs for the program will not be known until some time next year. Of these 3 billions, 1.3 billions is the actual cost of the vaccine – the rest is administrative costs, according to Göran Stiernstedt at SKL.

Given these assumptions, how much would it cost not to run a vaccination program in Sweden? Well, Sweden’s GDP (Gross domestic product) was estimated to be $348.6 billion in 2008, that is about 2,437 billion Swedish kronor. So, if 10% of the population gets sick and stays home from work for two weeks that means that the loss in GDP would be (approximately):

0.10 * 2/52 * 2,437,000,000,000 kronor ≈ 9,373,000,000 kronor

So, for these low expectations I made above, Sweden would still loss about 9 billion kronor just from people not coming to work. That’s a lot of money compared to the estimated cost of three billions. And still, we have not included the increased costs of medical care into our figures. As an additional note: Swedish tax revenue is almost 50%, which means that almost 4.5 of these 9 billions will end up in the government’s hands. In that perspective, the invested three billions seem to be well-used money.


Annika Dahlqvist – Enemy of logic and science?

Annika Dahlqvist, the doctor behind the LCHF diet (translation from Swedish Wikipedia), once again makes the front page of a Swedish tabloid (article in Swedish). This time, she has decided to battle the vaccination program for the Swine flu. However, the method she pleads for is so unbelievably stupid that one becomes scared.

In the Aftonbladet article, and repeated at her blog, Dahlqvist calls for cancellation of the vaccination program. The reasoning of this can be divided into three arguments:

  1. We know nothing about the side effects of the vaccine.
  2. It is a waste of money.
  3. If you eat according to the LCHF (Low carbohydrates, High fat) diet, your immune defense is so superior that the flu will be no problem.

Side effects?
The first statement is, at least partially, true. We do know very little about the side effects of a new vaccine. However, most often there are no to very small side effects of a vaccine. The rare reported serious side effects connected to earlier vaccines, such as paralysis, have been found to be caused by contaminated vaccine material. Since this happened, vaccine production methods have been greatly improved, and thus such cases no longer occurs.

Serious side effects aside, vaccines can have other side effects, just like all other medicines. Normal side effects are tiredness, stomach illness, dizziness etc. However, such conditions are much less serious than the flu itself, so they are not reason enough to turn down the vaccine. Like any other vaccine, the effectiveness of it will not be 100%. However, vaccines have proven to be a great way to deal with a variety of diseases which are now extinct, on the edge of extinction, or at least under control. Vaccines have proven to be much more effective than antibiotics in battling various diseases,as antibiotics many times causes bacterial resistance. Thus, it seems very arrogant to deny the effectiveness of vaccines against the swine flu.

Waste of money?
Given that you accept Annika Dahlqvist’s argument about diseases in general, it is of course a waste of money. Just like the vaccination programs against Poliomyelitis and Measles would be a waste of money, as they could have been cured by eating the right stuff. Personally, I am really happy to have these diseases out of the way. But if Dahlqvist really believes that we should not battle virus-related diseases, but rather try to live side-by-side with them, that’s up to her. Government paid vaccination programs can always be regarded a waste of money. That is more a matter of political views, not a rational argument against a vaccine.

Diet against flu?!
And now for the most ridiculous part of Dahlqvist argument. I mentioned in the previous paragraph how she thinks that eating “correctly” will give you a fantastic immune defense, capable of protecting from almost anything. This is so unbelievably stupid it seems like a joke. Sadly, it is not. She says exactly this in the article (my translation): “If you eat well, vitamin D and omega-3 you should have such a good infection defense you do not need to vaccinate yourself. We know that we get a much better infection defense by eating LCHF, low carb – high fat. We more seldom catch a cold and think we have a better defense in general. Many agree with me and others feel it is irresponsible to say something like this.”

The only rational part of this is the last sentence. Yes, it is irresponsible to say something like this. And a such statement makes it clear that you did not take the classes on virology during your education. And no scientist would believe this piece of crap. The sad part about it is that most people are not scientists or doctors, and have no way of knowing if she is right or not.

Let me explain something for you Annika: vitamin D and omega-3 does not protect you from viruses. Actually, no specific diet would. What protects you from viruses is hygiene, staying away from infected people (or rather, staying away from other people while you are infected and the first few days after the infection), and vaccines. This might sound unbelievable to you, but is common knowledge for anyone who has taken a course in microbiology or virology. When you say that you think that you have a better infection defense in general, that is exactly what you do. You think so. In reality, the only thing about LCHF that would give you a better immune defense system is placebo. Placebo is great, but advising people to rely on it is not only irresponsible – it is plain gambling with people’s lives without their knowledge. Any doctor would be cautious about such games, anyone except you. Shame on you, Annika Dahlqvist.

The hidden agenda
This leaves us with the following question; why does Dahlqvist want to gamble with people’s lives? This could be explained simply with stupidity, but as she as been proven to present a diet that apparently works (at least for many people) for weight loss, it is hard to put it off that easily. Instead, it seems that Dahlqvist wants to use the fear of the swine flu to agitate for a diet that was designed for diabetic patients. From being a decent doctor just a few years ago, Dahlqvist is now the leader of a group that looks increasingly like a sect. And this position makes her dangerous. She now has so many followers that would blindly do whatever she tells them. Like skipping the vaccination program to eat LCHF food instead. This battles the very core of the vaccination program.

Such battling places Dahlqvist, and the LCHF diet, in the same boat as other groups opposing the vaccination, such as Leonard Horowitz (that argues for silver ions, one of the most dangerous threats against antibiotics as they cause bacterial resistance) and Keith Scott Mumby (who argues that cancer can be cured by changing diet, don’t be surprised if Dahlqvist claims this next), making politics of a diet that should be regarded as… a diet. Both these “alternative doctors” have clear tendencies to defy science and common sense, using fear and unawareness to sell their own agendas.

Dahlqvist has previously shown to be sceptic against science in general, quoting from a recent Newsmill article (my tranlation): “At last, only the professors and the dietitians will remain to eat low fat – high carbohydrate diet. Then, maybe they will give in and admit the benefits of LCHF on health.” Beside attacking every scientist (!) and dietitian, Annika also forgets that science have infect given her diet some support, while it is rather society in general that has remained sceptical. However, it suits her role fighting the traditional sources of knowledge to turn against her previous allies. Probably she count on being accepted as a woman of the people, that got sacked for telling the truth. However, she is not telling the truth – and she was not sacked. She resigned herself.

It is rational to argue that vaccination should not be mandatory, but decisions should be based on facts, not on an agenda to sell cooking books. Yes – she writes cooking books about LCHF. And as she no longer is employed as a doctor, Dahlqvist has to sell books and lectures for her living. Of course she sees the opportunity. Let’s hope most people are clever enough to call the liar’s bluff.

Young people don’t want to work?!

An article in the Gothenburg local news paper, GP (full article, Google translation) , indicates that young people are becoming increasingly comfortable with faking sickness to get away from work. However, it is likely that the journalist is wrong. Here’s why.

The conservative issue with young people and labor

Based on a statistical survey carried out by the Swedish opinion-measuring institute SIFO on behalf of the news paper (Göteborgsposten, GP, independent liberal) the journalist Anna Holmqvist draws the conclusion that young people don’t want to work, but rather stays at home pretending to be sick. However, she is obviously not very familiar with how statistics works, nor does she hide her political agenda. Let’s go through the article together while I point out some of the most obvious misunderstandings in it.

According to the article, six percent of the Swedish people thinks it is okay to tell authorities that you’re sick, when in fact you are not. Already here the problems arise. First, the method of the survey is not disclosed, so we’re left to guessing the importance of these results. Not publishing such numbers is often not a good sign, so let’s suppose that SIFO is not that confident in these results itself (and trust me, these people know their statistics). Probably the answering frequency was not brilliant, to say the least. Second, the survey says nothing about for how long these people think it is okay to stay home for “non-sickness” reasons, nor does it define what is meant with “faking disease”. This is also a serious problem for this survey.

The which-hunt for the young

In the next sentence, the article states that 15 percent in the ages 15 to 29 years thinks it is acceptable to fake sickness. It then refers to a similar survey made five years ago where only 12 percent in this group said this behaviour would be acceptable. Then Anna Holmqvist makes the claim that this is a significant increase, and thus inclines that the youth increasingly disobey the rules. While a populist statement, there is no significant data to support a such statement. In fact, going from 12 to 15 percent is a 3 percent increase. Given that this survey probably reached less than a thousand people (many people are unreachable when SIFO calls etc.) three percent represents 1000*0,03 ≈ 30 persons. Then, note that we’re only considering the group between 15 and 29 years old here, which statistically can’t make up more than a third of the people in the survey (probably less, since these surveys have problems reaching young people and thus are biased from the beginning). This leads to the conclusion that these three percents consist of less than 10 people! Less than ten! Hello uncertainty. When working with such small numbers of individuals, conclusions will be drawn from random events rather than statistical trends. Everyone working with statistics knows this. Anna Holmqvist either doesn’t, or hides this knowledge well to support her populist political agenda. I don’t know which, but obviously it’s not good journalism.

The next sentence supports that Anna does not know statistics, however, since it comes with a rather hilarious claim: “Something seems to happen with our morale when we turn 30.” Hopefully, this is a joke. Of course it could look like this to an untrained eye, but this is an issue with how the age groups are divided. Draw the line between the groups at 28 instead (15-27, 28-45, etc.) and you’ll suddenly see that something happens with our morale when we turn 28… This part is just bullshit.

Who is less educated?

Then the article goes on drawing similar conclusions related to education, saying that lower education leads to higher a degree of cheating. Once again without caring about statistical issues. Holmqvist does not even point out that less educated people are most likely over-represented in the 15-29 age group, and that these numbers thus influences each other in some way. Instead, she goes on to conclude that older people often are less educated (which is true, of course), and that this makes the results even more puzzling. Please, make the connection between young age and low education here…

At the end, the article points out that people living in the Gothenburg area are more likely to cheat with disease faking than other people in Sweden. However, once again we can use math to disprove the significance of this: 1000 people in the survey, the Gothenburg area holds about a million inhabitants, while Sweden have about 9 millions. Thus, Gothenburg have about 100 people answering to this survey, comparable to Stockholm. Smaller towns in Sweden will have too low answering frequency to be significant. Now the article claims that 14 percent of the people in Gothenburg accepts cheating. 14 percent – that’s about 14 people. Wow! What a significant number to compare. And the article don’t even give Stockholm’s numbers for us to compare.

Percents are not facts

Personally, I think that GP should send Anna Holmqvist on a 15 hec statistics course. To everyone else, please don’t accept when journalists throw percentage number around themselves. Percents are not facts. Percents are statistical measurements, and as such they should be taken with a huge grain of salt.