US likely to miss big winter COVID-19 surge, analyst models predict

The U.S. may be spared from a significant surge in COVID-19 cases this winter, according to the latest analysis from the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub — a group of researchers that advises the CDC. 

NPR obtained the latest analysis and broke down the models in a Sept. 22 report. 

The researchers modeled four potential scenarios. In the most likely scenario, where childhood vaccinations rise and no new super-spreading variant emerges, new infections would steadily drop from an average of about 140,000 per day now, to about 9,000 each day by March, NPR reports. 

This scenario also predicts deaths would fall to less than 100 per day by March — down from about 1,500 deaths per day now. 

"Any of us who have been following this closely, given what happened with delta, are going to be really cautious about too much optimism," said Justin Lessler, PhD, who helps run the modeling hub and is a professor in the department of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. "But I do think that the trajectory is towards improvement for most of the country," he told NPR

There's a significant range of uncertainty in the models, and a scenario in which cases rise to as many as 232,000 per day before declining is possible, though very unlikely, according to the NPR report. 

"We have to be cautious because the virus has shown us time and time again that new variants or people loosening up on how careful they're being can lead things to come roaring back," Dr. Lessler said. 

There will be regional variation, researchers emphasized, with the surge worsening in some states before it lets up. 


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