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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Europe is swiftly shutting down as the unprecedented spike in new cases hits perilous new heights.

The big picture: Cases are growing uncontrollably across most of the continent. While spikes in hospitalizations and deaths have thus far been less sharp in most countries, fears of overcrowded hospitals are growing. The U.S. may be tracking just two or three weeks behind.

Driving the news: Fresh off imposing a new lockdown — something he’d vowed not to do — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday that the current spike could ultimately be “twice as bad” as Britain’s brutal spring.

  • “We could see deaths in this country running at several thousand a day," he warned.
  • Starting Thursday, bars, restaurants and non-essential businesses across England will be closed. International travel will be banned, as will the mixing of multiple households indoors.
  • As in most of Europe, schools will stay open.
  • The new measures are slated to last until Dec. 2, but Johnson conceded today that they could be extended.

The latest: Austria also announced a lockdown on Saturday, while restaurants, movie theaters and gyms will be closed in most of Greece starting Tuesday. Belgium is also locking down.

There is less horrifying news elsewhere.

  • Israel was the first country to impose a second nationwide lockdown, but it appears to be working despite less harsh restrictions and some flouting of the rules, WSJ notes.
  • Case counts fell swiftly and dramatically, starting just 10 days after the lockdown was imposed.

In India, cases and deaths have been consistently in decline since a mid-September peak.

Go deeper: Europe's monster second wave

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

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.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases hit a seven-month low — Majority back vaccine proof requirements for travel, schools and work — The race to avoid a possible "monster" COVID variant.
  2. Politics: Oklahoma secures $2.6 million refund for hydroxychloroquine purchase — Why Biden's latest vaccine goal is his hardest yet.
  3. Vaccines: Pfizer begins application for full FDA approval of COVID-19 vaccine — Moderna says its COVID booster shot shows promise against variants.
  4. Economy: U.S. adds just 266,000 jobs in April, far below expectations — Americans' return to the skies could benefit smaller airlines.
  5. World: WHO authorizes China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use — Mixed response in Europe to Biden's vaccine patents bombshell.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.