WASHINGTON: Soon after the US President-elect Joe Biden signalled that fighting the Covid-19 pandemic will be an immediate priority for his administration, a new study revealed that coronavirus cases in the country are likely to double before he takes office.
According to the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, Inauguration Day is still two months away and the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases are likely to increase to 20 million by the end of January, nearly doubling the current level of 12.3 million cases.
“One of the key reasons for the increased accuracy of our 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,” said study author Raphael Thomadsen from Washington University in the US.
“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 added. An interactive online version of the model also allows users to observe the impact different levels of social distancing will have on the spread of Covid-19. The current social distancing reflects an approximate 60 per cent return to normalcy, as compared with the level of social distancing before the pandemic.
“If we continue, as a nation, at the current level of social distancing, the model forecasts that we are likely to reach 20 million cases before the end of January 2021,” the authors wrote. The upcoming holiday season will present a great deal of uncertainty to the outlook of the pandemic as people travel more at the end of the year.
“This will likely make our forecast an optimistic one,” said Meng Liu, assistant professor of marketing and study co-author.