“We are not behind Europe in this wave. They are behind us,” said Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia.

The bars are shut in Vienna, and the Christmas market is empty in Munich, as several European nations tighten up or even lock down to combat a spike in coronavirus infections, AP reports.

Meanwhile in London, couples sip mulled wine at a seasonal market near the River Thames, full-capacity audiences fill the seats at the nearby National Theatre, and friends huddle over pints in pubs throughout the city.

Not for the first time in the pandemic, Britain is out of step with many of its neighbors. But this time, it’s happy to be different.

The U.K. has endured three nationwide lockdowns and recorded nearly 145,000 deaths from the coronavirus, the highest toll in Europe after Russia. Now, it is watching as hospitals struggle with surging cases in countries including the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, bringing lockdowns and restrictions. But while Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that a “blizzard from the east” could still ruin Britain’s Christmas, many scientists say the wind is now blowing the other way.

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