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PHOENIX – After months of relaxed COVID-19 precautions, including lifting restrictions on face masks and social distancing, India has suffered a second surge that set records for new infections and deaths.

As the United States begins to ease into a new normal and relaxes its own pandemic restrictions, is there a chance of a similar outbreak here? Dr. Janice Johnston, chief medical director of Redirect Health, told ABC15 multiple factors, including emerging variants and vaccines, ultimately will determine the severity of the spread.

“This is what viruses will do,” Johnston said. “They will start to mutate and vary. And what we think right now is that the vaccines are being quite effective with these variants, but time will tell.”

From a global perspective, health officials are watching the variants closely. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says its working with partners around the world to detect, track and respond to new variants.

In this video, Cronkite News reporter Jamie Landers explains where the U.S. stands compared to other countries.

Cronkite News has partnered with ABC15 Arizona to expand the station’s Health Insider series, which provides expert advice and insights into health topics. Cronkite News is experimenting with storytelling tools and techniques to help explain the issues.

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