However, it seems likely that most of Europe will get a handle on things before they spiral out of control. Even if we adjust for population, Spain is still seeing less than a quarter as many new daily cases as the U.S., and its positive test rate is just 3-5 percent, whereas back in April it was over 20 percent. That means the current surge appears larger than it really is in comparison to the first one, because many more cases were likely missed back then.
What’s more, these nations are far better prepared than they were at the beginning of the year. They have stockpiled medical equipment and protective gear, putting their hospitals in a much better position. Mass testing means these countries will not be caught flat-footed as they were in February and March, and they also now have test-trace-isolate protocols in place to find and squelch outbreaks before they spread to the rest of the country. Already the Spanish government has closed several categories of venues, and introduced new lockdowns in some towns — though it does seem its pandemic control bureaucracies are well short of the German or Italian standard, and the government has struggled politically to shore them up.
On the other hand, Italy was hit about as badly as Spain, but it has thus far dodged a resurgence after opening back up, thanks to a vigilant state and an abundance of caution among the citizenry.