According to French official numbers, the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has already claimed nearly 32,500 deaths in the last five months, versus 30,300 in the February-to-July period.
- The number of daily new infections in France has jumped up to around 15,000, three times the goal set by French President Emmanuel Macron when he decided on a new national lockdown in November.
- The government is considering new restrictions, on top of the closure of bars and restaurants and public spaces, the ban on nonessential travel and the 8 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew already in place.
- In the U.K., where a new, more aggressive variant of the coronavirus was first detected a few weeks ago, the government is publicly debating whether or not to reopen schools on Jan. 4 at the end of the Christmas holidays.
- The number of daily infections in the U.K. was reported on Monday at a record 41,385, with last week’s number up 25% over the previous seven-day period. Medical experts advising the government are asking for stricter rules to prevent “a catastrophe.”
The outlook: The mass vaccination campaign that started throughout the European Union over the weekend, two weeks after the U.K., is lagging behind the rapid progression of the virus. That means that Europe could be hit by another major economic shock in the first half of 2021, at best delaying hopes for a strong recovery.
From London to Berlin, governments are bracing for more public spending to help shield businesses and households, and provide a bridge of support until the moment when significant segments of the population have been vaccinated — probably next summer.