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Deadly COVID Discrimination against the Elderly in Sweden

State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell speaks at a daily news conference on the coronavirus situation in Stockholm, Sweden, June 8, 2020. (Andres Wiklund/via Reuters)

We have seen how the most vulnerable to death from COVID have been abused in this country with, for example, New York and other states’ ordering infected COVID patients to be admitted to nursing homes, spreading the disease.

But this is even more awful. Reports out of Sweden say that elderly COVID patients there were not only denied life-sustaining treatment at hospitals, but in some cases, were pushed over the edge into death in nursing homes. From the Bioedge story:

The health authorities have received many complaints about how elderly relatives were treated. A consistent theme is that nursing home residents with suspected Covid-19 were immediately placed on palliative care and given morphine and denied supplementary oxygen and intravenous fluids and nutrition. For many this was effectively a death sentence.

“People suffocated, it was horrible to watch. One patient asked me what I was giving him when I gave him the morphine injection, and I lied to him,” said Latifa Löfvenberg, a nurse. “Many died before their time. It was very, very difficult.”

How could that happen?

The problem seems to have been the guidelines issued by the National Board of Health and Welfare. At the start of the pandemic it suggested that doctors triage patients according to their so-called biological age, weighing overall health and the prospects for recovery, before making treatment decisions…

The idea was to keep hospital ICUs from being overwhelmed by older patients with a low chance of survival. However, the surge never happened. Instead, the elderly were denied access to unused facilities. “These guidelines have too often resulted in older patients being denied treatment, even when hospitals were operating below capacity,” according to critics who spoke to the WSJ. “Occupancy in the country’s intensive-care units, for instance, has yet to exceed 80%, according to government officials.”

That devolved into active killing:

Yngve Gustafsson, a geriatrics specialist at Umea University, told the BMJ that the proportion of older people in respiratory care nationally was lower than at the same time a year before, even though people over 70 were the worst affected by Covid-19. He, too, was aghast at the practice of doctors prescribing a “palliative cocktail” for sick older people in care homes over the telephone.

“Older people are routinely being given morphine and midazolam, which are respiratory-inhibiting,” he told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper, “It’s active euthanasia, to say the least.”

That’s what happens when there is an explicitly invidious health-care rationing policy. The nuances get lost and the discriminated-against population are deemed better off dead.

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