There are clear metrics of national success: After implementing a strict lockdown and closing nonessential businesses, France has brought daily new cases from about 50,000 a day to roughly 10,000. A month ago, Belgium had the worst infection rate in Europe, with experts warning of the potential collapse of the nation’s health-care infrastructure. Now, it has the fifth lowest infection rate on the continent and plans in place to start distributing vaccines in the first week of January.

On Friday, the Italian government announced an easing of restrictions in parts of the country, as coronavirus incidence rates dropped for the second consecutive week. “This does not mean a narrow escape, but it means that the measures have produced effects,” health minister Roberto Speranza told Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, warning of “still a very difficult game in progress.”…

The surge throughout the United States looks far from waning. For many ordinary Americans, a sense of dread is building as they wait for the arrival of vaccines. “What qualifies as an emergency?” said Bruce MacGillis, a resident of a covid-impacted Ohio nursing home, to my colleague Eli Saslow. “It feels like I’m on the Titanic, and we’re sinking.”