We provide a three-step analysis of the effects and responses to COVID-19 in Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden), large Western European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and United Kingdom) and OECD Europe. First, we compare public health trends over 2020 in terms of per capita COVID-19 cases, fatalities, testing and the stringency of social distancing (SD) measures. Second, in a â€˜like-with-likeâ€™ policy response model between Nordic countries, we test for the effects of air border closures on the growth in per capita COVID-19 cases while accounting for differences in stringency of social distancing and other measures. Third, using data from OECD European countries, we regress percentage change in GDP (2020â€“2019) on cumulative per capita national COVID-19 fatalities. We find that: (1) Sweden is an outlier, relative to its Nordic neighbours, in its COVID-19 public health outcomes; (2) Sweden would have had reduced cases and fatalities if it had adopted the air border closures implemented by its Nordic neighbours in the first half of 2020; and, (3) for OECD Europe, there is a statistically significant and negative association between per capita COVID-19 fatalities and economic performance.