As coronavirus cases rise in pretty much all other European countries, leading to fears of a second wave including in the UK, they have been sinking all summer in Sweden. On a per capita basis, they are now 90 per cent below their peak in late June and under Norway’s and Denmark’s for the first time in five months. Tegnell had told me the first time we spoke in the spring that it would be in the autumn when it became more apparent how successful each country had been.
Has the Covid ‘second wave’ already run out of steam? On 9 July, just when Britain was reopening the hospitality sector and other businesses, the World Health Organisation announced that the pandemic was ‘accelerating’. Much of the coverage in Britain also implies that we are possibly in the early stages of a second wave. But that talk is lagging behind the data. Globally, the number of new recorded cases peaked on 31 July at 291,691 and has shown a slight downward trend ever since. In terms of deaths, they peaked at 8,502 on 17 April and have also been on a slight declining trend ever since. On the worst day in the past week – 2 September – 6,312 deaths were recorded. Most of the worst-affected countries are now showing downward trends in both daily cases and deaths, including the US, Brazil, Russia, Peru, Colombia, South Africa, Mexico, Chile and Iran. Among the top dozen worst-affected countries, only India is now showing an upwards trend in deaths. Spain and Argentina are showing slight upwards trends in new cases, but not deaths. All these figures, of course, have to be read in conjunction with a huge increase in testing – so a slight increase in new cases does not necessarily imply that the disease is in fact spreading.
As for Europe’s ‘second wave’, that, too, has fizzled out – with new cases now declining in Germany, and Sweden, and remaining flat in Italy, Ireland and Belgium. There is no obvious trend either way in Poland, Denmark or Portugal. The country with the clearest rising trend is Croatia. There was, until last week, a sharply-rising trend in Greece, although this has flattened off in recent days. You can follow country by country data on new infections and deaths here.
Did you hear it? Beyond the second wave sirens and the schools debate, the sound of the penny dropping on the global stage. In recent days, world leaders have hinted at an extraordinary admission: lockdowns are a disaster, and we can’t afford to repeat the mistake
An uptick in cases hasn’t been matched by an increase in deaths. It’s about time we had a more intelligent conversation about risk
Hard luck to those who switched their holidays to Greece when Spain was put back on the quarantine list. The Greek government has just officially declared a “second wave”. Once holidaymakers have explored the Aegean they face getting to know a lot more about the insides of their own homes upon their return, as Greece is now a favourite to be added to the ever-growing list of countries whose air bridges with Britain have collapsed.
But how real is this “second wave” apparently sweeping Europe? Look at the chart of new recorded infections in Greece and, sure enough, you can call it a second wave. Recorded cases began to inch upwards from mid-June onwards. The figure for Sunday – 202 – was markedly higher than the peak in new recorded infections in Greece’s first wave, which reached 156 on April 21. But then look at the chart for Greece’s Covid deaths and there is not the slightest trace of a second wave.
- Sweden’s GDP fell 8.6 in Q2 2020, the country’s worst quarterly decline in modern history.
- The Scandanavian nation markedly outperformed the rest of Europe. Its GDP drop in the second quarter was lower than the 12.1 average experienced in the Eurozone, as well as the 11.9 average across the whole of the EU.
- Sweden outperformed several European countries, including Spain (18.5 percent fall), France (13.6 percent), Italy (12.4 percent) and Germany (10.1 percent).
While novel coronavirus cases have spiked across several parts of Europe, including Spain, France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, Sweden—where a countrywide lockdown was never issued—continues to report a downward trend in new cases and new deaths.
COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people in Sweden vs. Europe
Source: Johns Hopkins University (as of August 2)
- Sweden: 56.40
- Belgium: 86.19
- U.K.: 69.60
- Spain: 60.88
- Italy: 58.16
COVID-19 case-fatality ratio of Sweden vs. Europe
Source: Johns Hopkins University (as of August 2)
- Sweden: 7.1 percent
- U.K.: 15.1 percent
- Belgium: 14.2 percent
- Italy: 14.2 percent
- France: 13.4 percent
- The Netherlands: 11.2 percent
- Spain: 9.9 percent
New COVID-19 cases in Sweden vs. Europe in past 14 days
Source: World Health Organization (as of August 2)
- Sweden: Down 46 percent
- The Netherlands: Up 205 percent
- Belgium: Up 150 percent
- Spain: Up 113 percent
- France: Up 72 percent
- Germany: Up 59 percent
- Finland: Up 160 percent
- Denmark: Up 81 percent
- Norway: Up 61 percent
- U.K.: Up three percent
The death rate from COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Europe appears to be linked to low-intensity flu seasons in the past two years as the same people are vulnerable, says a working paper by Dr Chris Hope, Emeritus Reader in Policy Modelling at Cambridge Judge Business School.
If social distancing made things better, we would expect a positive correlation on both of these graphs – in other words, earlier social distancing would lead to both earlier flattening of the curve and lower total deaths, meaning these points would all sit close to a diagonal line sloping up from left to right. Instead what we see is very little correlation at all, and what there is is negative. So early social distancing is either doing nothing or making things worse. This is likely because the virus spreads mainly in hospitals, care homes and private homes rather than in the community, so social distancing of the wider population beyond a basic minimum (washing hands, self-isolating when ill, not getting too close, and so on) has little impact.
The absolute number of excess deaths in the UK is the highest in Europe, and second only to the US in global terms, according to data collected by the Financial Times.
Along with the US and Peru, the UK is still registering a large number of excess deaths, although the toll has dropped sharply since the 12,000 weekly peak in mid-April.
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Professor Michael Levitt, Stanford Prof. of Biophysics, Cambridge PhD and DSc, 2013 Chemistry Nobel Laureate (complex systems), says that Europe’s COVID19 Excess Deaths plateau at 153,006, 15% more than 17/18 Flu with same age range counts.
This phenomenological study assesses the impacts of full lockdown strategies applied in Italy, France, Spain and United Kingdom, on the slowdown of the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak. Comparing the trajectory of the epidemic before and after the lockdown, we find no evidence of any discontinuity in the growth rate, doubling time, and reproduction number trends. Extrapolating pre-lockdown growth rate trends, we provide estimates of the death toll in the absence of any lockdown policies, and show that these strategies might not have saved any life in western Europe. We also show that neighboring countries applying less restrictive social distancing measures (as opposed to police-enforced home containment) experience a very similar time evolution of the epidemic.
As a concluding remark, it should be pointed out that, since the full lockdown strategies are shown to have no impact on the epidemic’s slowdown, one should consider their potentially high inherent death toll as a net loss of human lives.
The eurozone economy suffered the steepest falls in business activity and employment ever recorded during April as a result of measures taken to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, according to provisional PMI® survey data. The month as saw unprecedented damage to the eurozone economy from lockdown measures coupled with slumping global demand and shortages of both staff and inputs.
ROADMAP ON VACCINATION
Last update: Q3 2019
Commission proposal for a common vaccination card/passport for EU citizens.
About 80% of patients have mild to moderate disease (including non-pneumonia and pneumonia cases), 13.8% have severe disease and 6.1% are critical (respiratory failure, septic shock, and/or multiple organ dysfunction/failure). Individuals at highest risk for severe disease and death are people aged over 60 years of age and those with underlying conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease and cancer. Disease in children appears to be relatively rare and mild. About 2.4% of the total reported cases were individuals under 19 years of age. A very small proportion of those aged under 19 years have developed severe (2.5%) or critical disease (0.2%).
EuroMOMO is an agency that monitors deaths across Europe. The chart below compares death levels in week 2 of 2017 with week 14 of 2020. The darker blue means more deaths.