It’s tempting to gloat over Sweden’s failures and the attitude of its top epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, who is by turns curiously inflexible (he opposes face masks) and unpredictable (his U-turns on guidelines for children). But maybe Sweden is simply falling into the norm for this public health crisis. After all, Germany, a bright spot of Europe earlier this year, is going through a similar reversal of fortunes. Its daily deaths are hitting their highest levels since the start of the pandemic, prompting Chancellor Angela Merkel to call on Germans to rein in Christmas celebrations in an emotional speech. Switzerland, too, is being hit harder this time around.

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