COVID-19: What is a 'second wave' of the pandemic, and has it arrived in the USA?

'When you’re underwater, it’s hard to tell how many waves are passing over your head,' a US health expert said.


Infectious disease experts, economists and politicians have raised concerns about a second wave of coronavirus infections in the United States that could worsen in the coming months.

But some, including Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious disease expert, said it is too soon to discuss a second wave when the United States has never emerged from a first wave in which more than 120,000 people have died and more than 2.3 million Americans have had confirmed infections with the novel coronavirus.

Here is an explanation of what is meant by a second wave.

Why describe disease outbreaks as 'waves'?

In infectious disease parlance, 'waves of infection' describe the curve of an outbreak, reflecting a rise and fall in the number of cases. With viral infections such as influenza or the common cold, cases typically crest in the cold winter months and recede as warmer weather reappears.


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