US will touch 20 million Covid-19 mark before Joe Biden’s inaugration day: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on November 24, 2020 Published on November 24, 2020

Upcoming festival season presents a great deal of uncertainty, say scientists

A new study speculated that before United States President-elect Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day i.e. in January, the country will likely see a surge in Covid-19 cases that may touch the 20 million mark.

The researchers of the study, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports, applied a mathematical model to accurately predict the growth rate of Covid-19.

Study co-author Raphael Thomadsen from the Washington University in St. Louis in the US said: “One of the key reasons for the increased accuracy of this model over other Covid-19 forecasts is that this model accounts for the fact that people live in interconnected social networks rather than interacting mostly with random groups of strangers.”

“This allows the model to forecast that growth will not continue at exponential rates for long periods of time, as classic Covid-19 forecasts predict,” Thomadsen said.

Social distancing

The study revealed that the current practice of social distancing could bring at least 60 per cent normalcy, as compared with the level of social distancing before the pandemic.

If this is to remain constant till January 2021, the cases will likely surpass 20 million mark.

“Even small increases in social distancing can have a large effect on the number of cases we observe in the next two and a half months,” Thomadsen said.

“Going back to a 50 per cent return to normalcy, which was the average level of distancing in early August, would likely result in 5 million fewer cases by the end of January,” he added.

The researchers believed that the US will be able to flatten the Covid-19 curve if the citizens follow the same level of social distancing that was prevalent in April.

However, they caution that this is likely a conservative estimate due to increased testing and the upcoming holidays.

Song Yao, another co-author of the study said: “In our model, we assume that only 10 per cent of cases are ever diagnosed, meaning that we will start to hit saturation.”

“However, more recently, testing has increased, and probably more like 25 per cent of cases are diagnosed. In that case, total COVID cases would increase beyond 20 million in the next few months unless we, as a society, engage in more social distancing,” Yao said.

The scientists predicted that the upcoming festival season in the US present a great deal of uncertainty to the outlook of the pandemic as people travel more at the end of the year.

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Published on November 24, 2020
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