... while at the same time, it's being called a failure – by media in other countries cheering for top-down control.Yes, so far they've had more deaths per capita. Partly, they could have done more to protect the elderly. But importantly, they crossed the hump before other countries, and had their deaths and hospitalizations in one go.
There were predictions, for Sweden, that the new school year would surely cause a large new wave of hospitalizations. Maybe this is still coming, but 6 weeks into the school year, not so:
Meanwhile, other countries – Britain, France, as well as Slovenia, out of those of which I know – show inability to learn from Sweden, and are preparing for new harsh measures that will surely be economically "helpful".
Of course, the UK Members of Parliament at first instituted a separate set of rules for themselves. They exempted UK Parliament bars from the 10 pm curfew, or from drinkers having to register their name and address for contact tracing. They have since backtracked under pressure.