COVID-19: the “second wave” in Europe

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COVID-19: the “second wave” in Europe

By Neil Lock

Preface

Charles asked me to clarify the Blavatnik Stringency Index that I am using in this article. You can find the definition here: in Chapter 4 of https://www.bsg.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2020-11/BSG-WP-2020-032-v9.pdf. I share Charles' concern about the way the index is compiled. My own criticisms are: First, they weight their 9 factors equally without justification. My main goal in this article is to put together some evidence to test this equal weighting! Second, they do not properly weight regional locks versus national ones. In my opinion, any regional lockdown should be weighted according to the population affected. For example, a lockdown in England (84% of the UK population) should have almost 17 times as much weight in the index as the same measure in Wales (5% of the population). If the Blavatnik data has been put together honestly (and I have no evidence to doubt it) my inclination is to use it to get the best picture possible.

A month ago I compared the history of the COVID-19 epidemic in fourteen Western European countries. At that point, the "second wave" of the virus, which had been spreading across the region for three or four months, gave governments an excuse to start putting lockdowns again. So I said I would review the situation in about a month. This month has now ended. Here is the review. Maybe, just maybe, I now have enough data to get an idea which lockdown measures were effective and which weren't.

Here is the list of countries again:

Austria
Belgium
Denmark
France
Germany
Ireland
Italy
Luxembourg
Netherlands
Portugal
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
United Kingdom

The data sources are the same as before: Our World in Data and the Blavatnik School of Government, both at Oxford University. The data I used was taken on December 3rd and had numbers up to and including December 2nd.

The Our World in Data feed has changed significantly over the past week. Most of the data before the third week of January was deleted. Some countries – at least France, Germany and Sweden – took the opportunity to erase and rewrite much of their data, some of it until the epidemic started. And the data for British dependencies (Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Gibraltar) and Danish dependencies (Faroe Islands, Greenland) have completely disappeared. I would have expected this data to be consolidated in the metropolitan area. But for the UK at least, I don't see any evidence of that.

From time to time the Our World in Data feed adds new columns of data. One of these recently added is the Reproduction Rate (Rt). This is the average number of new infections transmitted (as on any given day) from a single infected person. It is usually expressed as a fraction. Rt greater than 1 means infection numbers are generally increasing and less than 1 means they are generally falling. In the UK at least, this is more modeled than measured data. And as we'll see, some countries' numbers are smoother than others, so it looks like different countries calculate them differently. However, it is still of interest to compare even a modeled RT with the observed growth rate of new cases.

Plus, the Swedes completely rewritten their lockout dates in November, and it now looks like their lockout hasn't been nearly as easy as we thought for months. Even so, I'll repeat what I've said many times before: it's the best data I have, so I'll use it.

cases

I start with cases. Here are the total (cumulative) cases per million people over the entire period of the epidemic through December 2nd.

Here is a daily comparison of the cases per million people. The displayed data is averaged centrally over a period of 7 days. That is, the date a count is recorded is the 4th (central) day of the period.

In the vast majority of the 14 countries, the new case numbers have peaked since late October and have fallen significantly in many since then. So the recent bans must have had an impact. Which measures had the greatest effect is currently a matter of dispute.

Here is the list of daily cases per million at the end of the month:

To put this into perspective: Currently only Spain, Ireland and France are below the 200 new cases per million inhabitants and day for which the WHO considers the virus to be endemic and activations should not be considered. However, four other countries, including the UK, are only marginally higher.

Another way to look at the number of cases is to see new cases grow every week. This is the percentage growth in new cases (averaged weekly) from a given day to the same day of the week one week later. This requires the weekly averaged new cases up to 3 days after the current date, which means there must be at least 6 days of case data after the current date. Because of this, the graphic will stop before the end of November.

It is evident that over the past four weeks the weekly case growth trends have almost all been declining. So much so that only three of the countries have positive growth in new cases:

Another way to look at infection rates is to record the rate of reproduction Rt. This is based on the number of infections, not cases, so you might see a slightly different picture than weekly case growth. When I come later to draw the two on the same axis, it becomes clear that while the two are clearly related, they don't always move together perfectly in sync.

Listed here are the Rt values ​​that each country delivered during the epidemic. With the exception of Sweden, Rt rates fell in November:

The UK is one of only four countries with an RT rate below 1 at the end of November.

In contrast, the lockdown stringency trends have been almost all up since late October:

Great Britain (pink line) appears to be bucking this trend; But like most political things, this is a delusion. The apparent decrease around November 10th was caused by the release of lockouts on circuit breakers in Wales and Northern Ireland. Nevertheless, people in England are (were?) Locked up in late November far more heavily than in late October. At least for now, the number pulled through to Our World in Data only reports measures that apply across the UK. it seems to be missing out on additional measures in the individual member countries. In addition to the currently reported figure of around 64%, these additional measures represent around 5% additional stringency in England, 3% in Northern Ireland and Wales and around 1% in Scotland as of November 30th.

Testing

The number of cases found depends, at least in part, on the available testing capacity. Here are the cumulative tests performed per 100,000 population in each country (except for Sweden and France, which do not provide cumulative test counts):

Luxembourg and Denmark are well ahead of the others. In fact, the number of tests carried out in Luxembourg since the epidemic began is more than double that of the population!

Another interesting statistic is the cumulative percentage of positive results among the tests performed since the epidemic began:

In many countries, cases per test percentage increased significantly in the second wave of the epidemic. I think this is simply because the infections have increased faster than the number of tests available. This is consistent with the observation that this ratio appears to be approaching a second high in most countries.

Deaths

Here are four spaghetti charts of deaths from the virus. The first is the total number of deaths per million people. The second shows the daily deaths per million over the course of the epidemic; and I've attached a histogram of deaths per million as of November 30th. Here you can see which countries have started to "conquer" the second wave and which have not. The third shows deaths per case, with cases netted 21 days before deaths (21 days is the average length of the disease, at least in the UK). The fourth and last graph shows the cumulative deaths per case over the entire course of the epidemic.

The UK (pink line) does not do well on deaths per case. In terms of current daily deaths per case, it is the second most important after Italy. And the UK now tops the list of deaths per case throughout the epidemic, at around 3.6%. In my opinion, deaths per case are a fair indicator of poor quality in a country's health system. Due to a lack of testing capacity and less effective treatment of those who need hospitalization, this will tend to lead to an increase in testing capacity.

Lock

I now come to the meat of this review. For each country, I've plotted the weekly fall growth percentage (blue line), lockdown stringency percentage (brown line), and Rt rate multiplied by 100 to express them as a percentage (gray line), all on the same graph. Both weekly case growth and Rt are limited to a maximum of 200%. If a particular lockdown is in effect, I would expect the gray and blue lines to move in the opposite direction from the brown on or just after the day the measure goes into effect. A newly introduced lockdown measure, if successful, should visibly slow the RT rate or the weekly case growth or both within the incubation period of the virus (maximum 12 days).

This is made more difficult by the fact that, as you can see from the graphics, the virus has its own rhythm. Under conditions of constant stringency, weekly case growth tends to fluctuate periodically. The time period may be different in different countries and sometimes varies from time to time within a country. However, 2 to 6 weeks from peak to peak or from valley to valley are typical. Over the course of many cycles, the weekly case growth will tend to increase. However, when a lockdown is in effect, it can change the overall trend between peaks or valleys from top to bottom, and also smooth the peaks and valleys.

The rate of reproduction also tends to oscillate periodically in the same direction as the weekly case growth. Peaks and valleys in the weekly fall growth often show a few days before peaks and valleys in the Rt rate. As some of the following examples will show, it is now quite common for Rt to be above 1 and the case growth to be negative at the same time.

The other component of my review is the detailed data that the Blavatnik School of Government provides on the status of 12 lockout indicators (9 of which contribute to the stringency index) for each country for each day. I've converted these into a list of measures that have been dated (or unlocked) in every country since August 1st. I have also included a summary of the currently active lockdown measures in each country.

Austria

date Rigor Dimensions
20200906 36.11 Schools: Recommended closed (regional) International: Some arrivals are prohibited
20200914 36.11 Face covering: Required when you are with others
20200917 37.04 Workplaces: Recommended closed (regional) meetings: Until 11-100
20200929 40.74 Stay at home: Recommended
20201013 44.91 Events: Mandatory canceled (regional) Meetings: up to <= 10 (regional)
20201017 58.8 Workplaces: Some closed (regional) Stay at home: Required with exceptions (regional) Travel: Mandatory restrictions (regional)
20201023 60.19 Meetings: Up to <= 10
20201027 64.81 Schools: Recommended closed Events: Mandatory cancellation
20201102 75 Schools: Some closed Workplaces: Some closed Public Transport: Recommended closed Stay at home: With exceptions required Travel: Recommended not to travel
20201117 82.41 Schools: Mandatory Closed Workplaces: Mandatory Closed

Currently (20201127): Schools: Mandatory closed, Workplaces: Mandatory closed, Events: Mandatory canceled, Meetings: Until <= 10, Public transport: Recommended closed, Stay at home: Required with exceptions, Travel: Do not travel recommended, International: Some Prohibiting Arrivals, Public Information: Coordinated, Testing: Open, Contact Tracing: Extensive, Face Covering: Required when with others.

Notes: Given the high spikes in both RT and case growth in late October, I don't think the lockdown measures introduced in September and early October had much of an impact. However, September 29, “Stay Home: Recommended” appeared to cause an almost immediate decline in weekly case growth and the rate of reproduction. The reduction in the size of gatherings on October 23 also appears to have had an immediate positive effect. The November 2 measures also had a positive effect, although it is not clear which of them were responsible. The November 17 measures have continued the decline in weekly case growth, but I don't have any RT numbers to check against yet.

There is something else strange about this diagram. Look at the peaks in Rt and the weekly fall growth. They appear to be further apart vertically. Over time, it looks like it may take a higher RT in certain cases to achieve a given growth. I might wonder whether the proportion of infections that do not lead to confirmed cases (for example because they are asymptomatic) is increasing. If so, that's good news.

Belgium

date Rigor Dimensions
20200729 62.96 Workplaces: Mandatory closed (regional) Meetings: Up to <= 10 Stay at home: Required with exceptions (regional)
20200807 59.26 Stay at home: Recommended (regional)
20200809 64.81 Travel: Compulsory restrictions (regional)
20200812 58.33 Workplaces: Some closed Stay at home: With exceptions required (Regional) Travel: No restrictions
20200827 52.78 Stay at home: no action
20200930 47.22 Events: Recommended canceled Face covering: Required in some places
20201001 47.22 Face covering: Required when you are with others
20201009 45.37 Jobs: some closed (regional)
20201019 54.63 Jobs: Some Closed Stay At Home: With Exceptions Required
20201029 56.48 Schools: some closed (regional)
20201102 65.74 Workplaces: Mandatory closed Events: Mandatory canceled
20201116 63.89 Schools: Recommended closed

Current (20201123): Schools: Recommended closed, Workplaces: Mandatory closed, Events: Mandatory canceled, Meetings: Until <= 10, Stay at home: Required with exceptions, International: Ban on some arrivals, Public information: Coordinated, Testing: If symptoms , Contact Tracing: Comprehensive, Face Covering: Required when with others.

Notes: I have included the July 29th measures on the list above because they appear to have had an immediate and significant impact. The only national measure in this group was to limit the collection size to 10 or less, so this may have been the "trick" at the time. The decline in precipitation in the weekly fall growth around October 22nd and in the reproduction rate a little later can be attributed to October 19: “Stay at home: Required with exceptions.” To the mandatory closure of jobs on November 2 and the cancellation events were actually followed by an increase in weekly case growth, which, however, is (only) negative. Rt has continued to decline, but there is no “knee” to suggest that these measures alone made a significant difference.

I will note, however, that the strict mandate “Face Covering: Required When Being With Others” from October 1st apparently did nothing at all to prevent the enormous climax in new cases in mid to late October. And it seems to have sent the reproduction rate up, not down! I think this gives us some evidence that mandating face coverings brings little or no benefit.

Denmark

date Rigor Dimensions
20200801 50.93 Schools: Recommended closed
20200822 50.93 Face covering: Required in some places
20200909 47.69 Workplaces: Some closed (regional) assemblies: Up to 11-100 (regional) Public information: Coordinated (regional)
20200919 50.93 Workplaces: Some closed gatherings: Until 11-100
20201010 41.67 Workspaces: Recommended Closed Gatherings: Up to 101-1000 Public Transportation: Open Public Information: Coordinated Contact Tracing: Limited
20201021 37.04 Schools: Open Meetings: Until 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Stay Home: No Action Contact Tracing: Comprehensive
20201026 39.81 Meetings: Up to <= 10
20201109 54.63 Schools: Some closed (regional) Stay at home: Recommended travel: Recommended not to travel
20201116 50 Stay at home: Recommended (regional) travel: Recommended not to travel (regional)
20201119 43.52 Schools: Recommended closed Stay at home: No measures Travel: No restrictions
20201123 45.37 Stay at home: Recommended (regional)

Current (20201130): Schools: Recommended closed, Workplaces: Recommended closed, Events: Recommended canceled, Meetings: Until <= 10, Stay at home: Recommended (regional), International: Ban on some arrivals, Public information: Coordinated, Testing: Open , Contact tracing: Comprehensive, Face covering: Required in some places.

Notes: Denmark's RT rate looks smoother than Austria or Belgium, and it does not show all of the peaks and troughs of weekly case growth. It looks like they calculate it differently than the others.

The last three valleys in Rt (the last is only just visible) all appear to have bottomed with similar values ​​around 120% and all with a stringency level close to 50%. The reduction in the maximum group size on October 26th in connection with staying at home and the no-travel recommendations in effect from November 9th to 19th lowered the RT somewhat, but not as much as I would have expected. They may also have contributed to the small size of the following fall growth peak; but I cannot be sure we will have to wait a little longer to draw conclusions from Denmark.

France

date Rigor Dimensions
20200803 46.3 Face Covering: Required Outside Home (Regional)
20200814 48.15 Jobs: some closed (regional)
20200901 46.76 Meetings: Up to <= 10 (regional)
20200903 48.61 Schools: some closed (regional)
20200922 46.76 Schools: Recommended closed
20200926 49.54 Events: Mandatory canceled (regional)
20201010 43.98 Events: Recommended canceled trips: No restrictions
20201017 49.54 Stay at home: Required with exceptions (regional)
20201030 78.7 Schools: Some closed workplaces: Mandatory closed Events: Mandatory canceled Meetings: Up to <= 10 Stay at home: With exceptions required Travel: Mandatory restrictions
20201128 75 Jobs: some closed

Current (20201128): Schools: Some closed, Workplaces: Some closed, Events: Mandatory canceled, Meetings: Up to <= 10, Stay at home: Required with exceptions, Travel: Mandatory restrictions, International: Some arrivals forbid, Public information: Coordinated. Test: Open. Contact Tracking: Comprehensive, Face Covering: Required when you are with others.

Notes: To better understand the French data, I also show the chart of the daily cases:

What seems to have happened is that the French waited until the last possible moment and then on October 30th came up with almost every lockdown idea they could think of at the same time. It seems to have "worked" in a way; But it was almost as tough as the first ban. In addition, since July 20, the French have had "Face Covering: Required When With Others" nationwide. I think this peak July-October rush is pretty good evidence that the public's wearing of face masks doesn't hinder the spread of the virus.

Also note that in mid-November and under strict lockdown, Rt was still above 100% and yet new cases were falling.

Germany

date Rigor Dimensions
20200807 59.72 Schools: some closed (regional)
20200808 56.94 Meetings: Up to 11-100 (regional)
20200824 59.72 Meetings: Up to <= 10 (regional)
20200903 57.87 Schools: Recommended closed
20200904 49.54 Travel: No restrictions
20201001 46.76 International: high risk quarantine
20201015 56.02 Staying at Home: Recommended Travel: Recommended not to travel
20201022 57.87 Stay at home: Required with exceptions (regional)
20201102 59.26 Workplaces: Some Closed Gatherings: Up to <= 10 Staying Home: Recommended
20201110 62.04 International: Prohibit some arrivals

Current (20201129): Schools: Recommended closed, Workplaces: Some closed, Events: Mandatory canceled, Meetings: Until <= 10, Stay at home: Recommended, Travel: Do not travel recommended, International: Prohibit some arrivals, Public information: Coordinated, Testing: Open, Contact Tracing: Extensive, Face Covering: Required in some places.

Notes: The German cases have almost stabilized recently. Here is the new case diagram:

The most likely causes of this recent stabilization seem to be October 15th: “Stay at Home: Recommended” and “Travel: Recommended Not to Travel”. Germans usually do what they're told! The group size restriction on Nov. 2 and the closure of some jobs have reduced Rt, but so far they don't seem to have had a big impact on case growth. And for much of November, Rt was well above 100%, but the number of new cases was not growing steadily.

Ireland

date Rigor Dimensions
20200808 59.72 Workplaces: Mandatory closed (regional) Meetings: Until 11-100 (regional) Stay at home: Required with exceptions (regional) Travel: Mandatory restrictions (regional)
20200818 63.43 Events: Mandatory canceled
20200921 52.31 Schools: Recommended closed Workplaces: Some closed events: Mandatory canceled (Regional) Meetings: Up to 11-100 (Regional) Public transport: Recommended closed (Regional) Travel: Recommended not to travel (Regional)
20201007 61.57 Schools: Recommended closed (regional) Events: Mandatory canceled Travel: Mandatory restrictions
20201021 81.48 Schools: Some Closed Workplaces: Mandatory Closed Meetings: Up to <= 10 Public Transportation: Recommended Closed Staying at Home: Required with exceptions

Currently (20201123): Schools: Some closed, Workplaces: Mandatory closed, Events: Mandatory canceled, Meetings: Until <= 10, Public transport: Recommended closed, Stay at home: Required with exceptions, Travel: Mandatory restrictions, International: Quarantine high risk , Public Information: Coordinated, Testing: If Symptoms, Contact Tracing: Extensive, Face Covering: Required in some places.

Notes: Regional action of August 8th appears to have brought the immediate problem under control. After that, nothing seemed to matter much until October 7th. It was likely the national measures 'Travel: Mandatory Restrictions' and / or 'Events: Mandatory Canceled' that did the trick. And the (over?) Draconian measures of October 21st have certainly brought Rt down to well below 100%.

Italy

date Rigor Dimensions
20200808 50.93 International: Prohibit some arrivals
20200817 54.63 Jobs: some closed
20200914 47.22 Schools: Recommended closed
20201006 55.56 Gatherings: Up to 11-100pm Public Transportation: Recommended Closed Contact Tracing: Limited Face Covering: Required when hanging out with others
20201014 50 Public transport: open
20201023 66.67 Schools: Some closed (regional) workplaces: Some closed (regional) assemblies: Up to <= 10 Public transport: Recommended closed (regional) Stay at home: Required with exceptions (regional) Travel: Mandatory restrictions (regional) International: Quarantine high -Risk Contact Tracking: Comprehensive
20201106 76.85 Schools: Some closed workplaces: Mandatory closed (regional) Stay at home: Required with exceptions International: Some arrivals forbid
20201110 79.63 Public Transportation: Recommended Closed Contact Tracing: Limited

Currently (20201125): Schools: Some closed, Workplaces: Mandatory closed (regional), Events: Mandatory canceled, Meetings: Until <= 10, Public transport: Recommended closed, Stay at home: Required with exceptions, Travel: Mandatory restrictions (regional ), International: Prohibit some arrivals, Public Information: Coordinated, Testing: If Symptoms, Contact Tracing: Limited, Face Covering: Required when with others.

Notes: The closure of some jobs on August 17th appeared to have had an impact. The October 6 package of measures had immediate effect, but was not as strong as the Italians had hoped. October 23rd looks like the deadline for me. and on that date the only national measure was to limit the meetings to ten or less. This seems to be further evidence that limiting collection size works.

Once again, I cannot say whether the severe restrictions added on November 6th made a difference or are simply “exaggerated”. and it doesn't help that Italians haven't reported RT numbers since November 20th. Once again, however, an Rt that is consistently above 100% has led to a significant decline in case growth.

Luxembourg

date Rigor Dimensions
20200807 31.48 Events: Recommended canceled Stay at home: Recommended
20200812 34.26 International: screening
20200821 39.1 International: Prohibit some arrivals
20200825 43.52 Workplaces: Recommended closed
20200913 40.74 Meetings: Up to 11-100
20200926 43.52 Meetings: Up to <= 10
20201006 43.52 Contact tracking: Limited
20201020 52.78 Schools: Recommended closed Events: Mandatory cancellation
20201030 56.48 Stay at Home: Required with exceptions. Face Covering: Required when with others
20201126 60.19 Jobs: some closed

Current (20201123): Schools: Recommended closed, Workplaces: Some closed, Events: Mandatory canceled, Meetings: Until <= 10, Stay at home: Required with exceptions, International: Prohibit some arrivals, Public information: Coordinated, Testing: Open, Contact Tracking: Limited, Face Covering: Required when with others.

Notes: As Luxembourg is a small country, weekly case growth tends to be more volatile than in larger countries. There were also significant adjustments to the number of cases in late August. Since then, there appears to have been a significant decline in weekly case growth since the October 20 measures. This surprised me a little, as school closings were only recommended and not mandatory. Perhaps the mandatory cancellation of events was a bigger factor.

October 31, “Stay at home: required with exceptions” also led to a decrease in RT, as you can see at the “knee” in the graph. But case growth hasn't decreased much since then, although Rt has continued to decrease. As for the closure of some jobs on November 26th, we will have to wait and see.

Netherlands

date Rigor Dimensions
20200818 50.93 Events: Recommended canceled meetings: Up to <= 10
20200920 48.15 Events: Recommended canceled (regional)
20200929 62.04 Events: Mandatory canceled Travel: Recommended not to travel
20201104 65.74 Workplaces: Mandatory closed
20201122 56.48 Jobs: Some closed Travel: No restrictions

Aktuell (20201122): Schulen: Empfohlen geschlossen, Arbeitsplätze: Einige geschlossen, Veranstaltungen: Obligatorisch abgesagt, Versammlungen: Bis zu <= 10, Zu Hause bleiben: Empfohlen, International: Einige Ankünfte verbieten, Öffentliche Informationen: Koordiniert, Testen: Wenn Symptome, Kontaktverfolgung: Umfassend, Gesichtsbedeckung: An einigen Stellen erforderlich.

Anmerkungen: Die Beschränkung der Sammelgröße am 18. August schien die Größe des nächsten Peaks im Falle eines Wachstums zu verringern. Wie wichtig die Empfehlung war, Veranstaltungen abzusagen, weiß ich nicht. Aber kurz danach begann Rt zuzunehmen, nicht abzunehmen!

Die Maßnahmen vom 29. September, die Absage von Veranstaltungen und die Empfehlung, nicht zu reisen, schienen die Fälle endlich zum Erliegen zu bringen. Rt begann auch eine Woche später signifikant zu fallen.

Für eine Weile war alles in Ordnung; und bis Mitte November war Rt deutlich unter 100% gefallen. Die Schließung von Arbeitsplätzen am 4. November scheint sich jedoch überhaupt nicht positiv ausgewirkt zu haben. Tatsächlich sind seit Mitte November niederländische Fälle zurückgegangen, jedoch langsamer als zuvor.

Portugal

date Strenge Dimensions
20200801 65,28 Gesichtsbedeckung: Erforderlich außerhalb des Hauses (Regional)
20200810 66.2 Veranstaltungen: Obligatorisch abgesagt Zu Hause bleiben: Mit Ausnahmen erforderlich (Regional)
20200825 55.09 Schulen: Empfohlen geschlossen Arbeitsplätze: Einige geschlossen (regional) Zu Hause bleiben: Keine Maßnahmen
20200904 56,94 Arbeitsplätze: Einige geschlossen
20200915 58.8 Zu Hause bleiben: Empfohlen (regional)
20201002 56,94 Arbeitsplätze: Einige geschlossen (regional)
20201023 60,65 Zu Hause bleiben: Mit Ausnahmen erforderlich (Regional)
20201024 66.2 Schulen: Obligatorisch geschlossen (Regional)
20201030 74,54 Reisen: Obligatorische Einschränkungen (regional)
20201104 66.2 Reisen: Keine Einschränkungen
20201106 60,65 Schulen: Empfohlen geschlossen
20201114 69,91 Arbeitsplätze: Obligatorisch geschlossen (regional)
20201116 66.2 Arbeitsplätze: Einige geschlossen (regional)
20201121 69,91 Arbeitsplätze: Obligatorisch geschlossen (regional)
20201123 66.2 Arbeitsplätze: Einige geschlossen (regional)

Aktuell (20201123): Schulen: Empfohlen geschlossen, Arbeitsplätze: Einige geschlossen (Regional), Veranstaltungen: Obligatorisch abgesagt, Versammlungen: Bis zu <= 10 (Regional), Öffentliche Verkehrsmittel: Empfohlen geschlossen, Zu Hause bleiben: Mit Ausnahmen erforderlich (Regional) , International: Einige Ankünfte verbieten, Öffentliche Informationen: Koordiniert, Testen: Offen, Kontaktverfolgung: Begrenzt, Gesichtsbedeckung: Außerhalb des Hauses erforderlich.

Anmerkungen: Seit Anfang September sind alle Sperren regional. Sie waren ziemlich streng. Und sie scheinen sich auf das Virus einzulassen, wenn auch langsam.

Die Gipfel und Täler in Rt in Portugal scheinen keiner bestimmten Sperrmaßnahme zu entsprechen, die zu diesem Zeitpunkt eingeführt oder freigegeben wurde. Rt ging jedoch im September zurück, als einige Arbeitsplätze national geschlossen wurden. Und obwohl Rt immer noch weit über 100% liegt, sind die Neuerkrankungen deutlich zurückgegangen. Die Portugiesen müssen etwas richtig machen; aber ich habe keine ahnung was es ist!

Spain

date Strenge Dimensions
20200810 60,65 Zu Hause bleiben: Empfohlen (regional)
20200814 62,5 Arbeitsplätze: Einige geschlossen
20200907 60,65 Schulen: Einige geschlossen (regional)
20201007 64,35 Schulen: Obligatorisch geschlossen (Regional)
20201013 64,35 Kontaktverfolgung: Umfassende Gesichtsbedeckung: Außerhalb des Hauses erforderlich
20201022 58.8 Schulen: Empfohlen geschlossen
20201025 71.3 Veranstaltungen: Obligatorisch abgesagt Versammlungen: Bis zu <= 10 Zu Hause bleiben: Mit Ausnahmen erforderlich Reisen: Obligatorische Einschränkungen

Aktuell (20201129): Schulen: Empfohlen geschlossen, Arbeitsplätze: Einige geschlossen, Veranstaltungen: Obligatorisch abgesagt, Versammlungen: Bis <= 10, Zu Hause bleiben: Mit Ausnahmen erforderlich, Reisen: Obligatorische Einschränkungen, International: Verbot einiger Ankünfte, Öffentliche Informationen: Koordiniert, Testen: Wenn Symptome, Kontaktverfolgung: Umfassend, Gesichtsbedeckung: Außerhalb des Hauses erforderlich.

Anmerkungen: Die beiden Sperrungen im Juli scheinen sich sowohl auf das RT- als auch auf das wöchentliche Fallwachstum ausgewirkt zu haben, waren jedoch nur regional. Ein weiterer „Seewechsel“ scheint um den 25. Oktober stattgefunden zu haben. Die dann eingeführten Maßnahmen waren Absagen von Veranstaltungen, reduzierte Versammlungsgröße, Aufenthalt zu Hause und Reisebeschränkungen. Alle vier haben sich an anderer Stelle als wirksam erwiesen, so dass die Spanier im Umgang mit dem Virus wahrscheinlich auf dem richtigen Weg sind. Auch hier sehen wir im November eine konstant über 100% liegende Rt und dennoch einen deutlichen Rückgang bei neuen Fällen.

Die am 13. Oktober eingeführte Gesichtsbedeckungspflicht – die strengste in allen 14 Ländern – scheint keine Auswirkungen auf Rt gehabt zu haben. Und alle möglichen Auswirkungen auf das Fallwachstum wurden durch die Maßnahmen vom 25. Oktober in den Schatten gestellt.

Sweden

date Strenge Dimensions
20200817 55.56 Schools: Recommended closed
20201110 58.33 Travel: Recommended not to travel (Regional)
20201111 50 Gatherings: No restrictions
20201124 53.7 Workplaces: Some closed

Current (20201124): Schools: Recommended closed, Workplaces: Some closed, Events: Mandatory cancelled, Public transport: Recommended closed, Stay at home: Recommended, Travel: Recommended not to travel (Regional), International: Ban some arrivals, Public info: Co-ordinated, Testing: If symptoms, Contact tracing: Limited.

Notes: The weekly case growth has come down since the end of October, with no particular lockdown measure being an obvious cause. However, Rt – which is unusually smooth, like Denmark’s – has been rising since July, and now seems to have just about peaked. The November 24th closure of some workplaces hasn’t been in force long enough yet to draw any conclusions.

Switzerland

date Stringency Measures
20200917 43.06 Face covering: Required when with others
20200918 43.06 Testing: If symptoms
20201010 33.8 Schools: Recommended closed (Regional) Events: Recommended cancelled (Regional) International: Quarantine high-risk
20201019 35.19 Gatherings: Up to 11-100
20201020 40.74 Events: Recommended cancelled International: Ban some arrivals
20201029 45.37 Workplaces: Some closed Events: Mandatory cancelled (Regional)
20201102 49.07 Schools: Some closed (Regional)

Current (20201123): Schools: Some closed (Regional), Workplaces: Some closed, Events: Mandatory cancelled (Regional), Gatherings: Up to 11-100, International: Ban some arrivals, Public info: Co-ordinated, Testing: If symptoms, Contact tracing: Comprehensive, Face covering: Required when with others.

Notes: This is an odd one. Rt went up enormously during September and early October, perhaps due to the re-opening of schools after the summer break. (There was a similar rise back in May, when schools re-opened after the first lockdown). Weekly case growth and Rt have been coming down almost continuously since then, and Rt is now down almost to 100%. Yet there was no national lockdown measure in early October to trigger that!

New cases peaked and started coming down around the time of the October 29th closure of some workplaces. Looking at Rt, there is a “knee” at precisely that time; so perhaps this measure added to the already existing downward trends in Rt and weekly case growth.

Vereinigtes Königreich

UK wide measures

date Stringency Measures
20200801 69.91 Travel: Mandatory restrictions (Regional)
20200813 66.2 Schools: Some closed (Regional)
20200830 66.2 Contact tracing: Limited
20200901 64.35 Schools: Recommended closed
20200914 65.74 Gatherings: Up to <=10
20200924 67.59 Stay at home: Recommended
20201012 60.19 Stay at home: Recommended (Regional) Travel: Recommended not to travel (Regional)
20201019 65.74 Schools: Mandatory closed (Regional)
20201022 67.59 Stay at home: Recommended
20201023 75 Stay at home: Required with exceptions (Regional) Travel: Mandatory restrictions (Regional)
20201106 75 Workplaces: Mandatory closed (Regional) Stay at home: Recommended Travel: Recommended not to travel International: Ban some arrivals
20201110 63.89 Schools: Open Workplaces: Some closed

Current (20201116): Workplaces: Some closed, Events: Mandatory cancelled, Gatherings: Up to <=10, Public transport: Recommended closed, Stay at home: Recommended, Travel: Recommended not to travel, International: Ban some arrivals, Public info: Co-ordinated, Testing: If symptoms, Contact tracing: Limited, Face covering: Required in some places.

Notes: The UK seems to have the best correlation between Rt and weekly case growth of all the countries. There was a sea-change from a rising to a falling Rt trend some time in September, only broken by the huge spike in early October. “Gatherings: Up to <=10” and “Stay at home: Recommended” may have helped with this.

Here is the new cases graph for the UK as a whole:

The “tiered” local lockdowns in place in the second half of October seemed to have just about stabilized the new cases. When a new national lockdown was introduced in early November, cases suddenly went up again! But they peaked around November 13th, and have been going down ever since.

The UK data is particularly difficult to analyze, not only because of the tiers system (a version of which comes back into force on December 2nd), but also because England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales each have their own separate additional lockdown rules.

England (84% of UK population)

date Stringency Measures
20200801 66.2 Stay at home: No measures Travel: Mandatory restrictions (Regional)
20200827 66.2 Face covering: Required in some places
20200901 62.5 Schools: Recommended closed
20200914 63.89 Gatherings: Up to <=10
20200925 63.89 Face covering: Required in some places
20201012 65.74 Stay at home: Recommended (Regional)
20201105 74.07 Stay at home: Required with exceptions Travel: Mandatory restrictions
20201117 66.67 Stay at home: Required with exceptions (Regional) Travel: Recommended not to travel
20201130 68.52 Schools: Some closed (Regional)

Differences from UK wide measures (20201130): Schools: Some closed (Regional), Stay at home: Required with exceptions (Regional), International: Quarantine high-risk.

Notes: The August 27th “Face covering: Required in some places” almost exactly coincided with the start of the second wave. And after the September 25th tightening, cases went soaring! Not good evidence for the efficacy of face coverings. And despite “Schools: Recommended closed,” most schools did in fact re-open, and the results are visible in the cases graph.

Of the November measures, the most likely to have brought about the drop in cases were the stay-at-home requirement and the travel restrictions.

Northern Ireland (3% of UK population)

date Stringency Measures
20200810 62.96 Face covering: Required in some places
20200824 57.41 Schools: Some closed (Regional)
20200831 55.56 Schools: Recommended closed
20200911 54.17 Gatherings: Up to <=10 (Regional)
20200922 55.56 Gatherings: Up to <=10
20200925 55.56 Face covering: Required in some places
20201014 77.78 Schools: Mandatory closed Stay at home: Recommended Travel: Mandatory restrictions
20201102 68.52 Schools: Some closed Travel: Recommended not to travel Contact tracing: Limited
20201110 66.67 Schools: Some closed (Regional)

Differences from UK wide measures (20201123): Schools: Some closed (Regional), International: Quarantine high-risk.

Notes: Due to the low proportion of the population, these measures are unlikely to have contributed much to the UK wide picture.

Scotland (8% of UK population)

date Stringency Measures
20200805 71.3 Travel: Mandatory restrictions (Regional)
20200817 67.59 Schools: Recommended closed
20200821 73.15 Stay at home: Required, minimal exceptions (Regional)
20200824 70.37 Travel: Recommended not to travel
20200831 64.81 Stay at home: Recommended
20200923 64.81 Contact tracing: Comprehensive
20200925 64.81 Face covering: Required in some places
20201004 64.81 Contact tracing: Limited
20201102 67.59 Travel: Mandatory restrictions (Regional)
20201117 64.81 Events: Mandatory cancelled (Regional)

Differences from UK wide measures (20201123): Schools: Recommended closed, Events: Mandatory cancelled (Regional), Travel: Mandatory restrictions (Regional), International: Quarantine high-risk.

Notes: Due to the low proportion of the population, these measures are unlikely to have contributed much to the UK wide picture.

Wales (5% of UK population)

date Stringency Measures
20200816 59.26 Stay at home: No measures
20200901 55.56 Schools: Recommended closed
20200908 62.5 Gatherings: Up to <=10 (Regional) Travel: Mandatory restrictions (Regional)
20200914 62.5 Face covering: Required in some places
20200925 62.5 Face covering: Required in some places
20200928 66.2 Stay at home: Recommended
20201013 67.59 Gatherings: Up to <=10
20201016 70.37 Travel: Mandatory restrictions
20201023 77.78 Workplaces: Mandatory closed Stay at home: Required with exceptions
20201109 64.81 Workplaces: Some closed Stay at home: Recommended Travel: Recommended not to travel
20201117 64.81 Contact tracing: Limited
20201123 66.67 Schools: Some closed (Regional)

Differences from UK wide measures (20201123): Schools: Some closed (Regional), International: Quarantine high-risk.

Notes: Due to the low proportion of the population, these measures are unlikely to have contributed much to the UK wide picture.

Some tentative conclusions

In many cases, it’s hard to establish a strong correlation between success against the virus and any one particular lockdown measure. Part of the reason is that governments like to make lots of different regulations all starting on the same date, so it’s hard to determine which worked and which didn’t. The following conclusions, therefore, can only be tentative.

While schools are well known to be a breeding ground for the virus, I couldn’t find any evidence that school closures, either recommended or mandated, have on their own caused a significant drop in case growth anywhere during the second wave.

Workplace closures appear not to have been beneficial in Belgium or the Netherlands, and their effectiveness in Germany is doubtful. There is, however, some evidence that they did make a difference in Italy; and perhaps in Portugal and Switzerland too.

In most of the countries, large scale events have been (and still are) cancelled. But when a country has relaxed this measure, re-imposing it often seems to have had a beneficial effect on new case counts; at least in Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Spain. But there seems to have been no clear benefit from re-imposing this measure in Belgium.

The reduction in maximum gathering size to 10 or less seems to have been effective in Austria, Belgium, Italy, Spain and the UK. The only country where it doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference is the Netherlands.

Public transport closures do not appear to have been a significant factor during the second wave of the epidemic.

Stay at home requirements look to have had a significant effect. Even just recommending stay-at-home has produced effects in Austria, Germany and the UK. Mandating stay-at-home seems to have made a difference in Belgium and Spain, and perhaps in Luxembourg.

Travel restrictions, too, do make a difference. Even a recommendation not to travel has had beneficial effects in Germany and the Netherlands. Mandatory restrictions on travel have been effective in Ireland, and arguably in Spain. And a mixture of the two has, probably, had some effect in the UK.

The only countries which changed their international travel rules in October or November are Germany, Switzerland and Italy. I would expect that the effects of these changes will have been negligible; since international travel bans and quarantines would have far more effect in times when the virus is at a low level in a country, than when – as now – it is higher than in the rest of the world.

As to face masks for the general public, evidence from Belgium, France, Spain and the UK suggests that they have no beneficial effects. Indeed, it’s not implausible, given the data, that requiring the public to wear face coverings actually helps to spread the virus.

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