It is a staggering toll, almost 200,000 people dead from the coronavirus in the United States, and nearly five times that many — close to one million people — around the world.

And the pandemic, which sent cases spiking skyward in many countries and then trending downward after lockdowns, has reached a precarious point. Will countries like the United States see the virus continue to slow in the months ahead? Or is a new surge on the way?

“What will happen, nobody knows,” said Catherine Troisi, an infectious disease epidemiologist at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. “This virus has surprised us on many fronts, and we may be surprised again.”

In the United States, fewer new coronavirus cases have been detected week by week since late July, following harrowing outbreaks first in the Northeast and then in the South and the West.

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