COVID trends

Some have decided it's over and heralded the end of the pandemic; others say they are not sure. The answer to this recurring question requires a few definitions and statistical regressions.
In trying to make sense of the pandemic as new virus variants emerged and vaccines became available, we found that cyclical patterns don’t conform to seasons, deaths lag behind cases by varying degrees, cases and subsequent deaths vary by 10 to 15-fold, regional trends may shift, and case counts may be subject to reporting errors.   How can we anticipate the future if we can’t understand the past?