October 14, 2021

Europe

EUROPE: Managing the pandemic – what we are watching

BY Andrius Tursa, Antonio Barroso, Carsten Nickel, Wolfango Piccoli

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( 5 mins)

This updated weekly piece provides snapshots of how selected European governments are dealing with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you want to discuss any of the countries mentioned in more detail.

United Kingdom

– The seven-day average of new infections is increasing slightly again, rising above the mark of 37,000 cases.

– Despite the renewed standoff between the UK and the EU over the post-Brexit Northern Ireland protocol, the EU has indicated that it will recognize the UK’s vaccination passport soon; this will free UK travelers from the need for regular Covid tests in some member states.

– A parliamentary inquiry has blamed the government for serious mistakes in its handling of the early stages of the pandemic; however, the political fallout might be diluted by the country’s strong vaccination performance in the meantime – and the dominance of other topics, such as the looming cost-of- living crisis.

Germany

– The seven-day average of new infections remains relatively stable at around 8,000 cases; the debate about the exact share of vaccinated people continues, as reliable data are not available.

– Covid-19 tests are now no longer available for free; this will drive up the cost of attending larger events for people who have not received a vaccine and therefore require a negative test result.

– To increase the pressure to get vaccinated, the next major change will be the phasing-out of compensation payments for unvaccinated people who have to quarantine after having been in contact with a positive case.

France

– Cases seem to have plateaued around 4,200. The government has just adopted a draft decree that, if approved, will allow Paris to mandate the use of the health pass until 31 July 2022 if necessary.

– The authorities recently revealed that around 550,000 people over 80 years of age remain unvaccinated. At the same time, 47% of individuals from the same cohort have already received a third dose; that figure is 44% for the 65-79s.

– Former Labor Minister Xavier Bertrand has finally confirmed he would participate in the internal vote of The Republicans (LR) party to select a presidential candidate, ensuring that the center-right will have a unified bid.

Italy

  • Italy’s coronavirus infection rate remains relatively low and stable, with the seven-day rolling average of new cases at around 2,600. The number of hospitalizations due to Covid-19 has been falling steadily since early summer.
  • Italy has reached its goal of fully vaccinating 80% of the eligible population against Covid-19, amid a slump in bookings for first jabs. The target, set for 30 September, was reached on 9 October as the country’s vaccination campaign has slowed significantly in recent weeks.

– From 15 October, all workers will be required to show a Green Pass proving either vaccination, recovery from Covid-19 in the past six months, or a negative test to enter their workplaces. This is one of the strictest measures in Europe, and the risk of disruption (about 2.5mn of the country’s 23mn workers are unvaccinated) in the days ahead is substantial.

Spain

– Cases have continued to drop in the last few days, with the seven-day rolling average of infections currently below 1,500. Certain regions, such as Madrid, seem reluctant for now to extend the provision of booster shots to the general population.

– The government approved and sent to parliament the draft budget for 2022 on 13 October. The accounts include a 9.6% surge in public investment and a substantial increase in social spending.

– The ruling PSOE-Podemos coalition still needs to obtain a parliamentary majority to get the draft accounts passed in the Congress of Deputies (lower chamber). The first key vote on the budget is likely to take place during the last week of October.

Greece

  • The current seven-day rolling average of daily new cases is around 2,200, registering no meaningful change from last week. As of 13 October, 343 patients were intubated, pushing capacity at ICUs close to 70%.
  • As of 13 October, around 61% of the total population had received at least one jab, and 58.5% are fully vaccinated. Over the last month, most of the jabs carried out have been for second shots as few Greeks have been coming forward over recent weeks to get vaccinated with the first dose.
  • According to the latest growth estimates from the IMF, Greece is seen growing by 6.5% in real terms this year, before slowing down to 4.6% growth in 2022. In spring, growth in 2022 was seen at 5%. Overall, the IMF is now in line with the estimates of the Greek authorities.

Poland

– New infections increased by 44% during the past seven days to nearly 1,900, while the same metric for deaths rose by 48% to 26. The eastern provinces of Podlasie and Lublin are the most affected, which have some of the lowest vaccination levels in the country.

– The government is not planning any significant restrictions in the near term as the epidemiological situation is still much better than last October and there is still significant extra capacity in hospitals.

– A minor cabinet reshuffle is expected next week. This will likely include the departure of Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who will nevertheless continue to lead the ruling Law and Justice party.

Hungary

– The seven-day rolling averages of new cases and hospitalizations have increased by around 30% during the past week, but the overall epidemiological situation remains largely favorable.

– Considering the steep surge in infections and deaths in the second half of October last year, the coming few weeks might indicate the further trajectory of the pandemic in the country.

– Factory shutdowns and component shortages are weighing on the country’s industrial output – particularly in the crucial automotive and electronics sectors – which has been declining for the past three months (June through August).

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