Sweden and America suggest the UK could avoid a second wave of coronavirus deaths despite a surge in infections, experts believe.
The UK's rise of 21,300 cases last week – more than double the 8,700 two weeks ago – has raised fears that the UK is following in the footsteps of France and Spain, both of which have seen alarming spikes in virus cases.
Despite warnings from WHO that the death toll in Europe is expected to rise in the fall, experts hope the second peak will be less fatal as patients tend to be younger and doctors are better prepared for the disease.
In Sweden, the death rate has been falling steadily since April, although most of the cases occurred in the summer. The country's leading epidemiologist said deaths can be kept low without drastic lockdown measures.
France saw its highest surge ever on Saturday, with more than 10,000 cases, but deaths are nowhere near as high as they were in mid-April and the country's prime minister says it must "manage to live with this virus" without being re-banned to become.
In the United States, cases rose to record levels in July and August after the first wave subsided – but death rates in summer hotspots like Texas and Florida were well below those in New York City, where the virus was hardest hit in the spring .
Second wave of infections: In Spain, France, Sweden and the USA, second peak values have been recorded in all cases since the beginning of the pandemic
… but no second wave of deaths: The daily deaths in all four countries have remained well below the level of spring despite the increasing number of infections
In Sweden, which raised eyebrows around the world by opening shops and restaurants during the pandemic, deaths have fallen since April.
Only 11 new deaths were announced last week, up from a high of 752 deaths in seven days in mid-April.
Cases peaked in Sweden in the second half of June, when there were more than 1,000 infections in a few days – but the death toll continued to decline.
Swedish state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, who has become the face of the no-lockdown strategy, recently said in an interview that voluntary sanitation measures are "as effective" as complete shutdowns.
"The rapidly declining cases we are currently seeing in Sweden are another indication that you can significantly cut the number of cases in a country without having a full lockdown," he told Unherd.
Tegnell added that "deaths are not so closely related to the number of cases in a country," saying that the death rate is more closely related to whether the elderly are infected and how well the health system can handle it.
"These things will affect mortality far more than the actual spread of the disease, in my opinion," he said.
Swedish economic activity has now increased and the effects of the downturn are less severe than previously feared.
Sweden today removed the UK from its red list of travel destinations, despite an increasing number of cases in the UK that have prompted ministers to introduce the new "rule of six" for social gatherings, which the police will be able to enforce.
Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, told the Daily Telegraph that autumn and winter in Britain "probably aren't as bad as spring".
& # 39; Covid is likely to spread less quickly in the elderly than the first time. I don't think we're going to see as many deaths this winter as we did spring, ”he said, suggesting that a smaller second high in deaths would become the norm.
Tackling: Soho police on Sunday night as people enjoyed their last night before the "six point rule" for social gatherings goes into effect today
SWEDEN CASES: The infections in the Nordic country, which were never blocked, peaked in the second half of June …
SWEDEN DEATH: … but deaths continued to decline despite the summer surge and in the last week there were only 11 new deaths related to the virus
Pointing out the minor second peak in deaths in the United States, Prof. Hunter said it was likely that more young people would test positive.
At the height of the crisis in mid-April, the US recorded an average of more than 2,800 deaths per day – more than 1,000 per day in New York City alone.
After the cases slowed in May and June, they hit a frightening new high in the summer of up to 67,000 cases per day, compared to 32,000 in the spring.
However, the rise in deaths has been more subdued. The average daily summer death toll was never more than 1,100 a day and is now back below 800.
While New York City recorded 282 deaths per 100,000 people as a result of the catastrophic death toll in April, Florida has only 59 and Texas 49, both of which were badly hit by the second wave.
The lower summer death toll "is almost certainly due to the fact that the second peak was among a lot more young people, like here," Hunter said.
European countries, including France and Germany, have also found the virus to spread more widely among younger people, who are generally less to worry about.
New infections have hit an all-time high in France, where there are now more cases than the UK, after adding more than 56,000 in the last week.
While the number of hospital deaths rose from 86 per week in mid-August to 176 last week, they are well below the level of more than 3,000 per week in April.
US CASES: The contagion in America reached a terrifying new high this summer after the first wave subsided …
US DEATHS: … but the rise in deaths was far less pronounced, and summer hotspots like Texas and Florida were less affected than New York City in the spring
Last week French Prime Minister Jean Castex identified Marseille and Bordeaux as one of the cities hardest hit by the resurgence.
He didn't announce any major new restrictions, however, and cut the quarantine time for people infected with the virus from 14 to just seven days.
"We have to be able to live with this virus without coming back to the idea of a general lockdown," he said in a televised address.
Spain was hardest hit by the revival in Europe. Leading countries like the UK and Germany have introduced new travel restrictions.
In the past two weeks alone, more than 112,000 people have tested positive in Spain, where most cases are now in Western Europe.
But similar to France, the death toll has risen slightly, but does not match the terrifying level of spring.
While Spain recorded an average of 868 deaths per day in late March and early April, it is now only 47.
Doctors attributed the increase in part to the different rules of the 17 Spanish regional governments.
While parts of the country have banned gatherings of more than 10 people for weeks, Madrid has only just introduced the measure despite being hardest hit.
Still, health emergency chief Fernando Simon said Thursday that contagion had slowed in half of the country's provinces in recent days.
In Germany, too, cases have risen from less than 400 per day in mid-June to currently more than 1,300 per day, but the number of deaths is lower than ever at just 23 in the last week.
Current infection rates in Europe, according to the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC), with Spain and France among the hardest hit countries in the recent recovery
Despite signs that a second wave is manageable, WHO Europe Director Hans Kluge predicted today that the fall death toll is likely to rise.
“It's getting harder. We will see more mortality in October and November, ”he said.
"It's a moment when countries don't want to hear this bad news, and I get it," Kluge said in an interview with AFP.
The 55 member states of WHO Europe are holding an online meeting today and tomorrow to discuss their response to the coronavirus and agree on an overall five-year strategy.
Kluge stressed that he wanted to send the "positive message" that the pandemic "will end at one point or another".
However, the Copenhagen-based Kluge warned those who believe developing a vaccine will end the pandemic.
"I keep hearing," The vaccine will be the end of the pandemic. "Of course not!" Said the Belgian.
“We don't even know if the vaccine will help all populations. We are now getting some signs that it will work for one group rather than the other, ”he said.
“And if we then have to order different vaccines, what a logistical nightmare!
“The end of the pandemic is the moment when we as a community will learn to deal with this pandemic. And it depends on us and that's a very positive message, ”he said.
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