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The brutal experience of COVID-19’s first wave humbled many rich countries where even generous health care systems were overwhelmed by an unfamiliar virus. Just as past outbreaks taught Asia hard truths about how to deal with pandemics, lessons from this novel coronavirus abound in the West: Italy has ramped up intensive-care capacity, France is paying health workers better and Spain is building a new pandemic hospital.

Thanks to these and other efforts, national lockdowns are being portrayed as a one-off. Yet as cases surge again in Europe, strains on critical-care resources are leading to economic shutdowns on local and regional levels.

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