Updated projections for Omicron wave in Florida

Jan. 5, 2022: UF researchers updated their model projecting how an omicron-driven surge may unfold in Florida over the next few weeks and months. (This version supersedes the model information published Dec. 17, 2021.)

Updated projections for Omicron wave in Florida

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (green) heavily infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (purple), isolated from a patient sample. Image captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Credit: NIAID

Last month, University of Florida researchers projected how four different scenarios for the COVID-19 pandemic may play out in Florida between December 2021 and February 2022 given varying parameters of transmission, immune escape, and disease severity. (Immune escape refers to the ability of the omicron variant to evade immunity due to natural infection or vaccination.) The third scenario was estimated to be the most likely in the prior report; this scenario assumed that the omicron variant would have a high transmission advantage, moderate immune escape, but low disease severity. Projections for this scenario have been UPDATED in the below figures with refined data on the omicron variant. 

Additional data and contextual information are available in this new report, updated Jan. 4, 2022. The main finding is that the omicron wave is estimated to peak earlier than previously reported, in mid-January. 

Omicron_Fig1_scenario3_projected cases

The figure above shows the reported and modeled cases per day in Florida through May 2022. The projected winter/spring surge reflects the increased infectiousness and immune escape of the omicron variant. The black line shows past actual reported COVID-19 cases, and the yellow line shows the projected reported cases per day.

Omicron_Fig1_scenario3_projected deaths

The figure above shows the projected deaths of COVID-19 that are expected to be reported per day in Florida through May 2022. The winter/spring small surge reflects the increased infectiousness and immune escape of the omicron variant, and the expected decreased severity of disease produced. The black line shows past actual reported deaths due to COVID-19, and the red line shows the projected reported deaths per day.

Omicron_Fig1_scenario3_projected VOC prevalence

The figure above shows how omicron (purple) is expected to displace delta (teal) as the dominant strain in Florida beginning in December 2021. Omicron is expected to be the dominant variant in Florida by early January 2022.

Omicron_Fig1_scenario3_projected infections

The figure above shows the total number modeled infections per day, both asymptomatic and symptomatic. The number of projected infections is much larger than the number of reported cases because many infections are not reported, especially if they are asymptomatic or mild.  Omicron is likely to typically cause less severe infections than delta (though hospitalizations and deaths will still occur), and fewer of the infections it causes are expected to be reported.

Omicron_Fig1_scenario3_projected Rt

Rt, known as the effective reproduction number at time t, varies over time and expresses how many people become infected from a single index case at that time. In order for an epidemic wave to pass its peak and begin to decline, Rt must fall below 1, which means that each infected person transmits the virus to fewer than one additional person. Rt increases again at the end of the simulation (far right) because the researchers assume that people will relax the precautions they took during the inital onset of the omicron wave and also because SARS-CoV-2 transmission tends to increase in the summer in Florida. 

Refer to the full report for more information.

 

Acknowledgments

Figures and associated reported created by Thomas Hladish, research scientist in the Department of Biology at UF; Alexander Pillai, research assistant in the Department of Biology at UF; and Ira Longini, Jr., professor in the Department of Biostatistics at UF.

This work was supported by the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute, National Institutes of Health, and the World Health Organization.