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Conte announces new coronavirus restrictions Nov. 4 in Rome. Photo: Alessandro Serranò/Getty Images

European leaders are learning that the longer you wait to address the coronavirus, the harsher the mitigation measures to address an exponentially growing caseload must be.

Driving the news: Much of Italy will be placed under a strict lockdown as of Friday in the most drastic steps the country has taken to fight the coronavirus since it led the world into lockdown nearly eight months ago, Axios' Dave Lawler reports.

  • Italy managed to keep the spread of the virus largely under control for months after a brutal first wave. But like much of Europe, it's currently recording unprecedented daily case counts and scrambling to avoid a return to overcrowded hospitals and climbing death tolls in the coming weeks.
  • Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that the strictest policies would be implemented in four regions rather than nationwide.

England's second lockdown begins today, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament was the only option for avoiding a "medical and moral disaster."

  • Johnson had previously resisted taking such drastic action, "rejecting calls from scientists who advise the government, and from the opposition Labour Party, for an earlier but shorter lockdown," per the NYT.

The bottom line: "Europe is a great cautionary tale" for the month ahead in the U.S., Brown's Ashish Jha told me earlier this week.

  • An outbreak can't be controlled overnight, and the longer it's left alone, the more intense the policy responses are that would be required to control it.

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.

Jan 29, 2021 - World

EU grants conditional approval of AstraZeneca vaccine

Photo: Sunil Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The European Commission on Friday granted conditional approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people 18 years and older.

Why it matters: This is the third vaccine to receive approval from the commission, coming hours after the Emergency Medicines Agency recommended its authorization.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

Ex-CDC director Tom Frieden on the next COVID-19 vaccines

Americans fortunate enough to receive COVID vaccines now, outside of clinical trials, are getting shots made by either Pfizer or Moderna. But newly released data from Novavax and Johnson & Johnson suggests that more vaccines could be on the way, with J&J's requiring a single dose.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the news and why it matters with Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC, as COVID-19 variants spread globally.