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India May Not Catch US on COVID After All

Scientists say cases have peaked, though potential trouble spots loom
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2020 8:33 AM CDT

(Newser) – Last month, India seemed well on track to surpass the US in the total number of COVID cases. Now, that seems less certain. The US has 8.1 million cases but is seeing a renewed uptick in daily numbers. India has 7.5 million cases, but its daily total is declining. India was recording nearly 100,000 new cases a day in September, but the figure is about 60,000 now, reports NDTV. In the US, the daily total hit nearly 70,000 on Friday, with the seven-day average up to more than 55,000, per NPR. That's a 30% increase from two weeks ago and puts the US on track to match its summer surge. A new model by India's top scientists suggests that cases in India peaked in September and that the virus could be largely under control by the end of February, reports the BBC. However, lots of caveats are at play.

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For one thing, the scientists' model assumes that people will continue to wear masks and practice social distancing. If those rules are relaxed, the number of monthly cases could spike to 2.6 million, they warn. Another factor is that India's notorious smog could lead to a surge in caseloads in November, notes the BBC. And underlying all of that is that India's festival season is about to begin in earnest, most notably Diwali in mid-November, notes al Jazeera. "All our projections will hold if people adhere to the safety protocols," says one of the scientists who worked on India's new model. "We must not relax. There is a human tendency to think that the worst is behind us." The US has seen 219,000 COVID deaths, India 114,000. (China's new economic numbers are seen as a COVID success story.)

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