Florida researchers say the current increase in COVID cases will peak by the end of August.
Dr. Edwin Michael and Dr. Tom Unnasch with the University of Southern Florida Public Health developed a mathematical model used to forecast the trajectory of the pandemic. Michael and Unnasch are encouraging vaccinations but feel the peak is inevitable.
“Even if you were to even ramp up vaccinations now, and the peak is going to occur by the end of this month, according to the model, it’s far too late,” said Michael. “But it’s still important that we keep on message about vaccinations because ultimately we need to reach herd immunity.”
Scientists at the University of Florida developed a model which says Florida’s Delta variant of COVID has not yet peaked, but say the future of the pandemic could be similar to flu seasons where booster shots might be normal.
Ira Longini, Ph.D. and Thomas Hladish’s (pictured above) model says the high transmissibility of the Delta variant is the cause of the increase in cases, but they are not able to forecast the pandemic past December 2021.
“We don’t know what the epidemic will look like in Florida after this wave we’re facing now,” Longini said to Florida Politics. “It could go back to the lower levels like it was in June and stay there, or even go to lower levels as we keep vaccinating people. Or it could go to a higher level. You just don’t know.”
Additional possible variants could elongate the surge in cases, but Longini said there is no population vaccine percentage keeping new variants from developing.
“I think we’re probably facing a future kind of like with flu, where you probably have to get booster vaccinations every year, and when outbreaks get severe, we have to take measures to protect ourselves,” Longini said.
The development of a new variant, like the Delta plus in Florida, could add to more positive cases, but it is unclear if it is just as transmissible as the Delta variant, since there are so few cases. There is also not enough information to determine if the lambda variation is resistant to vaccination efforts or is highly transmissible.
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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and The Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Background photo “University of Florida” by University of Florida, photo “Ira Longini” by Ira Longini, photo “Tom Hladish” by University of Florida.