Mar 27, 2021 Volume 397 Number 10280 p1157-1236
COVID-19: building a stronger Europe
Europe is facing serious third waves of COVID-19 and vaccine roll-out has been fraught. But while much of the focus has been on western Europe, little attention has been paid to central and eastern Europe. This region is large, politically diverse, and historically complex, spanning EU member countries like the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and the Baltic states, the non-EU western Balkans, and Ukraine further east. It is unclear how some of these countries managed to keep cases low during the first part of 2020. By mid-March 2021, six of the top ten countries globally with the highest death rates per 100 000 people were in central and eastern Europe (up to 230·34 in Czech Republic). This fact raises questions about the general state of health across the region. It also gives urgency to the issue of how Europe as a whole can best ensure its collective health security and prosperity. As COVID-19 brings immediate crises to Europe, health could be a unifying force to strengthen the ties between countries both within and outside the EU….