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Although the United States and the European Union have comparable population sizes, until recently the trajectories of their COVID-19 outbreaks have been vastly different, with the EU seeming to have kept the pandemic mostly in check during the summer months. The US has now surpassed twelve million total infections as most states, particularly in the Midwest, are fighting massive outbreaks. But now Europe is doing even worse: states across the continent are seeing an uptick in average infection and mortality rates that dwarf those of the US, leading several European countries to implement fresh national lockdowns. Here's a look at the seven-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases, and three-day rolling averages of new deaths and new deaths per capita in the EU vs the US since March.

Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on US politics:

With 250,000 Americans dead of COVID and case counts rising, is there any sign of a federal relief package on the way?

And the answer is a solid maybe. The interesting thing is even after the election, neither party has really changed their views on what they want in a stimulus. The Democrats are still holding to their $2.5 trillion number, and the Republicans are saying they want something much smaller and more targeted. President Trump is nowhere to be found in these discussions. He's busy litigating the outcome of an election he lost. Vice President Biden, the incoming President on January 20th, has indicated he basically supports the Democrat's position. He can probably be the deal breaker here. If he wants to tell the Democrats to come down with their number, that could potentially drive compromise with the Republicans. Negotiations haven't really gone anywhere though in the last six months, and I'd frankly be surprised at this point if we saw relief before the fifth January runoff election in Georgia, which will determine control of the Senate.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here, and I've got your Quick Take. A lot's going on in the United States and on this planet. I have to feel better about the vaccines. I understand that we are significantly in the middle of this second wave right now, both in the United States and in Europe. Europe starting to flatten out quite a bit, even in the largest countries. Even in France, case levels coming down. But in the United States, we're not there yet.

The next couple of weeks, I'm actually quite concerned in terms of the numbers of cases, the hospitalizations, record levels, deaths, you're going to see a lot more. But the vaccine news is better than pretty much anyone I had spoken to had been daring themselves to hope over the last several months. I've talked to a lot of the world's top epidemiologists, had some of them on the show, no one thought we would have multiple vaccines at a 90%-plus level at this stage in the game, eight, nine months after we find out about this disease.

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"So this is one where I'll be honest with you, I got it wrong. I really thought that Europeans had learned their lesson from that first wave, and they would never let themselves kind of be subject to another large wave of infections." Public health expert Dr. Ashish Jha tries to put the recent COVID surge across Europe into a global context. Ian asks if the alarming spike proves that the United States has not, in fact, been the outlier of incompetence when it comes to corralling the virus.

Watch the episode: Dr. Ashish Jha on COVID-19 and the dark winter to come

We are now about to enter year two of the coronavirus pandemic, a saga that's been lingering far longer than many people first anticipated. As we near this grim milestone, it's worth reflecting on how the once-in-a-generation public health crisis is currently unfolding.

State of play. In many parts of the world, the situation is dire. Countries in the Americas and Europe, are dealing with raging second (or third) waves of infection that are dwarfing the numbers seen this past spring and summer.

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It's spreading. Maybe even faster and wider than the virus itself: pandemic fatigue. As infection rates in the United States and Europe skyrocket, Ian Bremmer looks at how tired we've all become of the virus. And yet, the virus does not seem to get tired of us.

Watch the episode: Dr. Ashish Jha on COVID-19 and the dark winter to come

"There's no doubt in my mind, when I have poured over the data, that an average person who got infected and got sick enough to be hospitalized, let's say in March, in New York, that person probably has a 30% to 50% lower likelihood of dying today. That's amazing." Public health expert Dr. Ashish Jha doesn't have much good news about the state of the pandemic today. But one area of optimism is the improved treatments that doctors and researchers have developed for a disease that we didn't even exist a year ago.

Watch the episode: Dr. Ashish Jha on COVID-19 and the dark winter to come


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