How Iceland Beat the Coronavirus | The New Yorker

June 29, 2020

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By sequencing the virus from every person infected, researchers at deCODE could also make inferences about how it had spread.

“We
saw what was going on in China,” she recalled. “We saw the pictures of people lying dead in emergency departments, even on the street. So it was obvious that something terrible was happening. And, of course, we didn’t know if it would spread to other countries. But we didn’t dare take the chance. So we started preparing.” For example, it was discovered that the country didn’t have enough protective gear for its health-care workers, so hospital officials immediately set about buying more.

Meanwhile, Möller began assembling a “backup” team. … When new cases started to be diagnosed in a great rush, the backup team, along with doctors whose offices had been shut by the pandemic, counselled people over the phone. “If you were seventy, if you had high blood pressure, you got called every day,” Möller told me. “But, if you were young and healthy, maybe twice a week. And I’m sure that this led to fewer hospital admittances and even to fewer intensive-care admittances.”

This, in turn, appears to have cut down on fatalities. Iceland’s death rate from covid-19 is one out of every one hundred and eighty confirmed cases, or just 0.56 per cent—one of the lowest in the world. …
Arnarson, who represents, among others, the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, had been in New York, attending the Armory Show, at the beginning of March. After the show ended, he’d gone to a crowded party where finger food was served. “I’m not a news guy,” he told me. “But I knew what was going on here in Iceland, and I knew what was going on in Europe. And I was struck by how New Yorkers were so confident. They didn’t believe it was going to happen, or, if it was going to happen, somehow it was going to be O.K.”
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https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/06/08/how-iceland-beat-the-coronavirus