Dr Joseph Varon has never seen so many patients in his intensive care unit. Most of the beds are occupied by cases of Covid-19. But although his hospital in Houston, Texas, has found itself in the new epicentre of the US outbreak, he is not as worried as you might imagine. “Our ward is full of coronavirus patients, but we’ve had amazing success in treating them,” said Dr Varon, chief medical officer at United Memorial Medical Center. “Around 95 per cent of people who have come in here have walked out.” The US has been reporting record numbers of virus cases - hitting 77,000 in one day on Thursday - yet deaths have not been rising at the rate many had expected. The country averaged just over 700 deaths a day the week to Wednesday - up from 500 in the first week of July but far lower than the 2,200 recorded during the deadliest phase of the outbreak in April. According to the most recent death certificate data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the percentage of deaths caused by Covid-19 and conditions linked to the virus decreased from 6.9 per cent for the last week of June to 5.5 per cent the first week of July, representing the eleventh consecutive week of decline. “As cases rise, deaths decline. The disconnect between case and death trends is striking,” said Whet Moser from The Covid Tracking Project. “In Brazil and India, the two other large countries reporting a rapid increase in infections, deaths have been rising in recent weeks as well.” Some health experts now believe what was seen in the early days of the outbreak in New York and neighbouring New Jersey - and indeed much of Europe - was a “worst-case scenario”, and that a combination of factors could help spare current hotpots the same fate.