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COVID-19 cases in US may double before Joe Biden takes office

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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.

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More than ₹1000 cr extent of damage due to fire at Pune plant :Serum CEO.

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The Serum Institute of India incurred damage worth over Rs 1000 crore in a fire incident at its Pune facility, the company’s CEO Adar Poonawalla said on Friday, though asserted that the supply of Covishield will not be affected due to the incident. 

Five casualties were reported at a fire incident at a five-storey under-construction building at SII’s Manjari premises in Pune on Thursday. The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained though it was suspected to be ignited by welding work at the site. Another fire incident was reported in the same building later in the day, though no person died in the incident. 

Addressing media with Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Poonawalla said that no vaccine was being manufactured at the facility where the fire broke out and that incident did not cause damage to the existing stock of Covishield.

“The supply of COVID-19 (vaccine) will not be affected due to the fire. No actual vaccine was being made at that facility. The extent of the damage is more than 1000 crores,” Poonawalla said. “The fire has had no impact on the production of Covishield vaccine and no damage has occurred to the existing stock either.”

Thackeray said that an investigation is underway to determine the cause and other details of the fire. The Chief Minister said that while the firm has taken the responsibility for the victims’ families, the Maharashtra government will provide other help if needed.

“An inquiry is currently being conducted. Until the investigation report comes in, we cannot come to any conclusions,” Thackeray said.

(With ANI inputs)

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