Regarding the SVD-based answer, there's slightly more to it:
Örjan Hemström, a statistician specialising in births and deaths at Sweden’s state statistics agency Statistics Sweden (SCB), put together the figures at the request of Svenska Dagbladet.
He told The Local that the numbers published in the newspaper came from him and had not been doctored in any way by the journalists.
He did, however, point out that he had produced an alternative set of figures for the Nordic countries, which the newspaper chose not to use, in which Sweden had exactly the same excess mortality as Denmark and Norway.
“I think they also could have published the computation I did for the Nordic countries of what was expected from the population predictions,” he said of the way SvD had used his numbers. “It takes into consideration trends in mortality by age and sex. The excess deaths were more similar for Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Almost the same.”
Here are Hemström’s alternative numbers:
As you can see, only Finland significantly differs in the first column. Also that can be explained somewhat too
Another issue with the analysis is that the SvD graph compares deaths in the pandemic years to deaths over just three years, a mean of 2017-2019, and does not properly take into account Sweden’s longstanding declining mortality trend, or the gently rising mortality trend in some other countries where mortality is creeping upwards due to an ageing population, such as Finland.
Maybe someone else can look into the age structure of Finland vs its neighbors, because that's not too well detailed there. Anyhow, other expert were more cautious about drawing conclusions:
“It’s very difficult to compare countries and the longer the pandemic goes on for the harder it is, because you need a proper baseline, and that baseline depends on what happened before,” Karin Modig, an epidemiologist at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute whose research focuses on ageing populations, told The Local.
“As soon as you compare between countries, it’s more difficult because countries have different trends of mortality, they have different age structures, and in the pandemic they might have had different seasonal variations.”
Do the numbers match those provided by other international experts and media?
Sweden’s excess mortality over the three years of the pandemic is certainly below average worldwide, but it is only in the SvD/SCB figures that it beats Norway and Denmark.
The Economist newspaper also put together an estimate, using their own method based on projected deaths.
TLDR: the construction of the baseline matters quite a bit in this game. OTOH one could generally say that Sweden didn't significantly differ from its neighbors (minus Finland) in outcomes on that measure. As for whether their measures differed significantly... stay tuned. But the Local felt like pointing out that deaths from Covid did differ:
So if Sweden had similar excess mortality as the other Nordics over the period, does that mean it had a similar Covid-19 death rate?
Not at all. Sweden’s per capita death rate from Covid-19 over the period covered by the SvD/SCB figures, at 2,249 per million people, is more than double Norway’s 959 per million, 60 percent more than the 1,409 per million who died in Denmark, and more than 50 percent more than the 1,612 per million who died in Finland.
There are some graphs on that too, but I'm omitting them here as less relevant.
Interestingly however, there's this potential explanation:
“The most striking difference between Sweden and the other Nordic countries is that only Sweden had large excess mortality in 2020 and the winter of 2020-21,” [Preben] Aavitsland [the Director for Surveillance and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health] explained. “In 2022, the field levelled out as the other countries also had excess mortality when most of the population was infected by the omicron variant after all measures had been lifted.” [...]
“My interpretation is that in the first year of the pandemic, say March 2020 – February 2021, Sweden had several thousand excess deaths among the elderly, including nursing home residents,” he said. “Most of this was caused by Covid-19. In the other [Nordic] countries, more people like these survived, but they died in 2022. The other countries managed to delay some deaths, but now, three years after, we end up at around the same place.”
Alas there are no detailed graphs included to back up this interpretation. It may be a good question on its own, whether this explanation stands. On my quick check of it with The Economist's data as of now (warning it changes as it's updated regularly!) it appears to roughly check out, but one needs to be a little weary of the non-identical timeframes
Although OWID has somewhat different data, the (relative) trend claim can be easily seen in theirs as well:
That's the cumulative graph, by the way, the weekly one is much more noisy, but even in the latter you can see that the spikes become much more aligned in the past few weeks (unlike at the begging of the pandemic)
This bit is more anecdotal, but I was curious for the reason for the spike in 2021 in Norway. Apparently they did relax mesures beforehand and then re-introduced them in mid Dec, but as it's been the case in many other countries that yo-yo'd the measures, governments were generally a bit late with reintroducing them.
Finally, I'm not so sure about the methodology/reliability of the OxCGRT stringency index, but according to that (also via OWID) there was not actually that much difference between these 4 countries that regard... I suspect that the weighting of the index's various components belies their relative effectiveness.
There are probably some [more] regression models for that stringency index vs Covid outcomes, but I could only find one for Latin American countries, and it uses Covid deaths, not total excess deaths, as the dependent variable.
Based on some slides I found (from an Oxford researcher), the effects of various measures were hardly equal, e.g. banning all gatherings >2 persons was much more significant than banning >10, and likewise closing all non-essential business much more impactful than a night curfew. So yeah, that OxCGRT index isn't too helpful as such.