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When will the pandemic finally be over? Hopefully sooner than later, according to new modeling data. Although the Delta variant has caused COVID-19 to peak again, researchers from the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub have projected a steady decline in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States over the next six months. The data predict a downward trend for COVID-19 through the winter and the spring, despite initial fears of another significant winter surge.

Much of the projected decline is related to the expectation that children ages 5 to 11 will soon begin to receive vaccinations, combined with the prediction that no new highly infectious SARS-CoV-2 variants will emerge in the United States. If these conditions hold, new infections should drop from around 140,000 cases a day to approximately 9,000 cases a day by March.

Unfortunately, the reason for the projected peak of the Delta variant is bleak. According to Justin Lessler of the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub, there are fewer people now to infect, as most susceptible individuals have already been infected by the virus.

It is crucial to note that these projections are contingent on many factors and are not sure signs of an end to the pandemic. Another variant could emerge—a possible scenario if vaccination rates remain stagnant and restrictions continue to loosen too soon.

Even if these models prove to be accurate, there are still many projected losses. We may continue to see surges before the Delta variant peaks, and many vulnerable communities will have harsher outcomes. And even in the best-case scenario, the United States expects an additional 780,000 COVID-19 deaths before March.

To curb these numbers, vigilance and vaccination are key, especially as the end of the pandemic could finally be on the horizon [1].

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[1] Stein, R., & Wroth C. (2021, September 22). Is the worst over? Models predict a steady decline in COVID cases through March. National Public Radio. https://choice.npr.org/index.html?origin=https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/09/22/1039272244/is-the-worst-over-modelers-predict-a-steady-decline-in-covid-cases-through-march