Covid in Europe, the US and Central Europe: November Update 1

Updated: Nov 5

By Chris Ball, Ph.D.

Posted: 4 November 2020


As Covid cases rise around the world, we wanted to start tracking European numbers and look at Central European numbers specifically. This is the first in a series of short analyses to look at Covid cases and some other effects of Covid in the region. These are intended to be relatively short, quick looks at various aspects of the crisis. This first report looks at Covid cases and some initial comparisons to put things into perspective. The sad conclusion, if there is one, is that it is not clear at all if any country has a better or worse policy in terms of managing the pandemic. What we all thought were early signs of success, seems not to be working more recently. This is true within the US, across states, as well as within the EU, across countries, and between the US and European as well.


Our goal here is just to shed some light on trends.


GRAPH 1: Daily Confirmed Covid Cases in the EU 27 and the USA

For most of the Covid pandemic, the US appeared to perform worse than the Europeans in terms of cases. The summer months showed a clear uptick in US cases as states opened up and also that cases dropped as summer ended and schools re-opened (both K-12 and colleges). The story in Europe seemed to have been the opposite.


After initial outbreaks, Europe performed well through the summer but as the summer ended cases began to rise. Again, commentators speculate that this was due to summer vacationing in Europe mixing populations, but it’s not entirely clear that it's true. Schools opened earlier in the summer in Europe than in the US but without signs of outbreaks and colleges were generally opening later. Neither seem to have been a clear driver of cases.


GRAPH 2: Daily Confirmed Covid Cases EU Large Countries in One Graph

Looking at country-level data, France is clearly a driver of European numbers as is seen by the brown line in the graph here. To see other drivers, we break the cases up by country and then exclude countries where cases aren’t breaking the 10,000 per day barrier.

GRAPH 3: Daily Confirmed Covid Cases in Europe broken into CEE and Non-CEE Region

This graph makes clear that cases in Europe are not being driven by Central European countries (where CEE is the EU 27 countries in Central Eruope: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania). Early in the pandemic, CEE countries were actually considered something of an anomaly with very low cases. Nevertheless, cases in CEE are now rising too and together they contribute about 50,000 new daily cases to Europe’s nearly 250,000 new daily cases.


GRAPH 4: Daily Confirmed Covid Cases in Central Europe broken down by Country

Breaking CEE down a bit, we see that All CEE countries hit around 40-50,000 daily cases, but Poland (the largest CEE country by population, about 38 million people) accounts for nearly half of that, with about 20,000 per day. Surprisingly, the Czech Republic (Czechia), is a small population country (about 10 million people) but nearly makes up the other half of the cases with peaks near the 15,000 daily level.


GRAPH 5: Daily Confirmed Covid Cases in Europe broken down by biggest contributors

Looking across Europe, most small nations are not driving the numbers. Excluding the countries with cases hitting around less than 10,000 per day, we see the main drivers.


Even looking at these larger contributors, it is very clear that France still dominates, contributing about half of Europe’s total daily cases at it’s peak of 120,000 cases a day. The trend in all countries however remains worrisome.

Our hope with this short report is simply that it highlights which countries are driving cases today. If we’ve learned anything about Covid it is this: this too will change. The “leader” today will be the “worst” case tomorrow. So this review is not at all intended to point national or political fingers at any country. We are all struggling with this challenge. After reading article after article about outbreaks without mentioning any numbers, we at InvestCEE simply decided to get the numbers ourselves and report them in a way anyone can look at and understand. We hope it inspires people to think about different policies, different medical conditions, other possible differentiating factors and maybe get insights to help us all. In the absence of that, at least we all see that we aren’t alone.

This is a first quick look. These are raw numbers. In future releases I’ll weigh numbers by population or report the numbers per 100,000 people. Additionally, I’ll include deaths as well as just cases. For other interesting questions, we’ll focus on a few countries and look at GDP or unemployment along with Covid cases.


InvestCEE’s focus is on Central Europe, so we’ll keep a Central European focus, but this is a global phenomenon and I write on it from the United States, so some broader comparisons are interesting to us all.

Data: All data was downloaded through from the Johns Hopkins University database. To find any of these numbers, go to DBNomics https://db.nomics.world/JHU . All graphs and analysis was done by the author in R. The code will be posted on our Sources page for anyone to download and replicate our results.

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