Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal have suffered some of Europe’s worst health outcomes in the COVID-19 pandemic. The same countries also bore the brunt of the European sovereign debt crisis a decade earlier, when they were forced to undertake severe budget austerity measures in return for financial support from European institutions. Austerity left their economies and health care systems weakened when the pandemic arrived. Yet they were able to avoid another surge in unemployment, showing that some lessons were learned from the financial crisis.

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