Regular readers of this column will have probably noticed how optimistic the last few articles were in tone. Is that any different now? In short: No, not really. It’s even getting a tad monotonous; the number of infections is decreasing almost everywhere at a staggering rate.
Seeing as I don’t want to repeat myself week after week, I’m mainly giving the floor to a lot of visualizations this time. Apart from Belgium, Denmark, Norway and UK, the progression of the number of new Covid-19 diagnoses is showing fairly similar patterns to that of the Bitcoin exchange rate of a few weeks ago.
On the subnational slide charts below, the latest figures are laid out alongside those from last week and the final week of April. Swipe and judge for yourself.
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Indian variant? Meh.
Whereas last year most countries were locked down from then until June in an attempt to achieve the same kind of ravine, things are different now. The easing of restrictions that began last month have been fast-tracked across a lot of countries. Now that nearly half of all Europeans have been vaccinated at least once, the virus seems to be having the greatest amount of difficulty in gaining a foothold here.
Some dark clouds to keep an eye on in late May can be spotted in the northeast of England and in the Glasgow region in Scotland where the more contagious Indian variant is spreading relatively quickly among the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated segment of the population. In Norway, Belgium and Denmark, too, the numbers are on the rise, but this “last pandemic convulsion” doesn’t seem to be causing much of a headache there either. Even there, the hospitals are emptying out and the increases pale in comparison to those at the beginning of this year.
These clouds are barely noticeable on the heat map that shows the weekly rises in patients since the beginning of the year. In fact, can we still speak of a heat map if almost all countries are heading towards a softer shade of yellow?
Confidence in vaccines
That concludes the bad news. Despite the sporadic stagnations and increases, confidence that vaccines will do their job over the coming weeks remains undiminished. In the Netherlands, the decline started relatively late, but now our country is among the biggest decliners of all. All the same, this went a lot faster in mainly Central European countries this May.
In the meantime, we are vaccinating in high gear. Germany, Belgium and Austria, in particular, stepped on the gas pedal. The Netherlands is slightly behind, but will pass the magic limit of 8,747,184 shots in the next few days. What makes this particular number so unique? Because the Netherlands has twice as many inhabitants: Fifty shots for every hundred upper arms. And this is how we are faring in the European jab pecking order.
Zooming in on our own country
Despite all the optimistic lighter shades on the maps, the Netherlands remains one of Europe’s biggest virus hotspots. Although ‘we’ appear somewhat modestly on the European slide charts, the turning point was also passed here for several weeks already. To illustrate this, here are two sliding maps of the Netherlands taken on a municipal level. How does the week of May 20-27 compare to a week and a month ago? Like this:
Apart from some final flare-ups in Twente, North Brabant and northern Limburg, the black and red colors on the map are rapidly changing over to purple and blue in our own country as well. Note that this color palette differs slightly from that of the subnational European maps.
Is this the end of Corona in Europe?
This weekly column seems to have reached its end. Although the flags can’t be hoisted everywhere just yet, this trend is more than clear. Corona is going to play at most a minor role within our continent this summer and if nothing really crazy happens, the “old normal” should be back. In a few weeks, the maps and visualizations will probably lose their added value because of excessively low and stable figures. This is immensely gratifying for society, but from a journalistic point of view, of course, it is fairly uneventful.
Each week I try to add something ‘new or different’ to Corona in Europe. I haven’t done that so far this time around. So, here is the complete ranking of 329 European country regions sorted by the number of infections per 100,000 inhabitants. Would you like to work with this dataset yourself? You can do that too!
This can be downloaded via Google Sheets by anyone who fancies making subnational corona maps of Europe but has neither the time nor the inclination to collect all the data from all those countries themselves. It is also very useful for vacation enthusiasts. Whether you want to check the status of your destination or find inspiration if you don’t know yet where you want to go this summer.
A quick word about Iceland …
Want to know another fun fact that has an orange twist (for those uninitiated, orange is the Dutch national color, ed.) about the island with the fewest new cases? Here we go! A mere 16 Icelanders were told last week that they had tested positive for the coronavirus.
This means that a total of 18.75% of all Icelanders who had been registered with Covid-19 between May 20 and 26 represented their country at the Eurovision Song Contest as part of the six-member music troupe Daði og (that finished a very respectable fourth in the finals). Due to the corona infections, they were obliged to skip their live performances during the semi-final and final in the Ahoy concert venue in the Netherlands.
After two of the band members had already heard the bad news before the final, a third infection surfaced after they returned home. Although the incredibly tall and eccentric frontman himself tested negative, he also had to go into quarantine. That’s because this latest infected bandmate is also his girlfriend. She recently announced that they have a baby on the way.
Still, there is some small consolation for the unlucky ones who were the bookies’ sky-high favorites last year. Although a Eurovision performance in Rotterdam was cancelled for the second year in a row due to corona, Iceland’s European title as the most virus-free place on the continent was not in jeopardy this week by a long shot.
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