To determine the factor triggering the sudden surge of daily new COVID-19 cases arising in most European countries during the autumn of 2020. The dates of the surge were determined using a fitting of the two last months of reported daily new cases in 18 European countries with latitude ranging from 39° to 62°. The study proves no correlation between the country surge date and the 2 weeks preceding temperature or humidity but shows an impressive linear correlation with latitude. The country surge date corresponds to the time when its sun UV daily dose drops below ≈ 34% of that of 0° latitude. Introducing reported seasonal blood 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentration variation into the reported link between acute respiratory tract infection risk and 25(OH)D concentration quantitatively explains the surge dynamics.