Europe was one of the first regions to be hit hard by COVID-19 last spring. In mid-May 2020, the World Health Organization declared it the “epicenter” of the pandemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined. From there, in many ways, the European experience of COVID-19 mirrored the U.S. and its neighbor the U.K., two of the other worst-hit parts of the globe: In the summer, many bars, restaurants and clubs reopened their doors, and international visitors were welcomed back. Then cases began to surge again in the autumn and winter, in large part thanks to the holidays, and lockdowns returned.

But now, the European experience of the pandemic is diverging from the U.K. and U.S., which have rolled out effective vaccination programs and are seeing case rates fall, while countries throughout Europe, including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Slovakia, Italy, France, Poland and Sweden have seen significant rises in average new daily cases in the recent weeks. Overall, the European Union has recorded over 800,000 new coronavirus cases over the past seven days, an increase of about 5.8% from the seven days prior.

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