Modeling forecast warns Florida’s delta variant wave still hasn’t peaked

coronavirus COVID-19
And another highly transmissible COVID-19 variant could be around the bend.

A predictive model developed by two scientists at the University of Florida shows the latest COVID-19 wave in Florida still hasn’t peaked.

UF biostatistics professor Ira Longini, Ph.D., worked with Thomas Hladish, a UF biology research scientist, to develop a mathematical model that projects the number of reported COVID-19 cases in Florida through the end of 2021.

The resulting graph released Aug. 5 shows the Sunshine State is in the middle of a large outbreak of COVID-19 cases, and the state hasn’t quite hit its peak.

The graph depicts the projected number of reported COVID-19 cases in Florida through the end of 2021.

Based on the model, Florida’s COVID-19 cases will soon surpass the number of COVID-19 cases seen at any point during the pandemic.

Longini has been researching and analyzing COVID-19 data from the beginning of the virus outbreak. As a biostatistician, he studies and analyzes the control of infectious diseases, including vaccine trials and transmission studies. In his work, he uses mathematical models that consider various factors related to infectious diseases and project infections based on those factors.

Florida’s expected surge in COVID-19 cases, depicted in Longini’s projections, can primarily be attributed to the delta variant, which has higher transmissibility than the original COVID-19 variant and reduced levels of protection for vaccinated people or people who have already been infected with COVID-19, Longini said.

Given changing factors, Longini’s model can’t reliably predict any further out than December.

“We don’t know what the epidemic will look like in Florida after this wave we’re facing now. 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,” Longini explained.

One major factor that can affect the future of the pandemic is new variants. Longini mentioned he is monitoring the lambda (C. 37) variant, first detected in Peru in December 2020.

Longhini said the lambda variant could create another peak if it turns highly transmissible like the delta variant, but there isn’t enough information about lambda to make that determination yet. The morbid thing about studying infectious diseases is that more people have to be infected to gather enough data to draw inferences.

“They don’t know a whole lot about it yet, but it appears that it may be somewhat similar to the delta variant, but we don’t know yet. We need to study it,” Longini said.

According to GSAID, a database that tracks infectious diseases, lambda variant cases account for 1,062 COVID-19 cases in the U.S., just a fraction of the total COVID-19 cases. However, 147 of those cases were recorded in Florida.

The lambda variant has been classified as a “variant of interest” by the World Health Organization, a designation slightly lower than the delta’s “variant of concern” status.

Longini said if it turns out the lambda variant is highly transmissible, then another COVID-19 wave would be likely, but added, “it takes several months for these viruses to get going.”

And while there isn’t much that can be done about variants already created, Longini said stopping transmission can keep new variants from forming.

“Variants come about when there’s lots of transmission of the virus. It gives you opportunities for the variances. If you can get everybody in the world vaccinated, we wouldn’t see any variance anymore,” Longini explained.

Longini said there’s no magic vaccination percentage that will keep new variants from forming. Still, every additional vaccinated person helps, and wearing masks and social distancing during outbreaks will help keep viral transmission low.

He also acknowledged that while vaccinations are the best hope to keep new variants from forming, he doesn’t expect COVID-19 to ever fully go away.

“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.”

Longhini works in the department of biostatistics in UF’s College of Public Health and Health Professions and UF’s College of Medicine.

Hladish is a research scientist in the biology department in UF’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Haley Brown

Haley Brown covers state government for FloridaPolitics.com. Previously, Haley covered the West Virginia Legislature and anchored weekend newscasts for WVVA in Bluefield, W.Va. Haley is a Florida native and a graduate of the University of Florida. You can reach her at [email protected]


15 comments

  • PeterH

    August 11, 2021 at 11:15 pm

    50% of Floridians have not been vaccinated.

    In South Florida the populous is behaving irresponsibly, no masks, no social distancing, table in restaurants very close together and bars are packed.

    Of course we are not nearing a peak! In order for the upward trend to decline….. behaviors must change.

    We have deplorable State leadership. DeSantis and his ilk have encouraged this behavior and Republicans are doubling down on stupid.

    • Dan

      August 12, 2021 at 1:00 am

      Fearmongering. That’s what this is.

      Look, we are not shutting down the state. Period. We are not going to mandate masks. People want to wear them, fine. If not, fine.
      And what else? Mandate the vaccine? For what reason? Vaccinated people are still spreading the virus. So you don’t stop the spread through vaccination. Does it make COVID less severe? Maybe in some people. But not for me. I got vaccinated and the side effects was way worse than the COVID I caught. There is no way in hell I would ever get a booster. I had a migraine for 2 weeks after the shot. And then the stupid CDC tells me I STILL have to wear a mask? This insanity is never ending.

      • Carl

        August 12, 2021 at 9:19 am

        “I got vaccinated and the side effects was way worse than the COVID I caught.”
        That’s interesting. Did you report the side effects to VAERS? I feel you on being leery about a booster: would not want a 2-week migraine. (This is largely why I got vaccinated: even with “mild” COVID, people report a headache that hangs on for weeks. Not for me, thanks.)
        So when did you get the COVID and when did you get the vaccine? Because per report, if you got COVID, recovered, then got the vaccine, you are the best off of everybody. My results came back positive for an antibody test I took in February, so I must have had an asymptomatic case of it. Then I got vaccinated in March. (Side effects definitely worse than the COVID, since I didn’t even notice the COVID.) Now I’m walking around in a natural suit of armor–AND I wear a mask. No headaches for me.

        • Matthew Lusk

          August 12, 2021 at 2:37 pm

          Only 10% report to VAERS. Side effects are very wide spread!

      • Rita

        August 22, 2021 at 7:16 am

        If EVERYONE had your ignorant viewpoint the human race would cease to exist.

      • Jim

        August 23, 2021 at 3:24 pm

        Dan, Zero People have died from the Vaccine itself. If the number of vaccinated people doesn’t reach 70+ percent there will be 3 million deaths by the end of 2022. All of which a Republicans. Stupdid as Stupid does.

  • Sonja Fitch

    August 12, 2021 at 6:29 am

    Duffus Desantis is willingly slaughtering Floridians! Duffus Desantis is after our children now! We do not have vaccines for under 12 . Lock up this disgusting murderer Duffus Desantis!

  • NOJO NMP

    August 12, 2021 at 8:49 am

    I think everyone has lost their minds. Just live. If you don’t want to catch something, stay home. Masks don’t work, now they are saying the vaccine doesn’t work. I am personally done. “Jesus take the wheel!” I live the way I want and our inept Washington leadership can put it where the sun don’t shine.

  • bishop jerome

    August 12, 2021 at 11:03 am

    Playwright Advanced Catholiuc DR LARRY MYERS

    offers objective analysis a la spirituality in his

    “AMBIDEXTERITY”

    a Covid vaccination play

    PLAYWRIGHTS SANCTUARY NYC

  • Matthew Lusk

    August 12, 2021 at 2:13 pm

    What a “scientific joke.” The “researchers”are unwittingly modeling criminal affects in part. There is no predictive reliability not knowing the intentions and timing of the criminal elite in Washington and Brussels.

  • Matthew Lusk

    August 12, 2021 at 2:33 pm

    I am willing to bet anyone 10 to 1 that your “scientiic researcher”cited, Longini, is a sodomite and has had anal sex with doc Fauci. Why do I say this. He is a associated with the CDC, aids research, bio weapons , and his long hair is feminine, but mainly his predictions are attributed most unscientifically besides using polluted data. The last refuge of scoundrels: gay bars, journalism, deep state, the Vatican, and YES tenure.

    • Bob Lassiter

      August 13, 2021 at 2:35 pm

      Matt: The only pictures of Dr. Longini that I’ve seen are of a bald old man with a gray mustache. If I could, I’d post a picture of him here, but I doubt I can. Interesting picture of you, Matt. Have you read all those books?

  • Andrew Finn

    August 13, 2021 at 2:44 pm

    “”Well it’s 1 – 2 – 3 what are we fightin’ for —- don’t ask me I don’t give a damn —- next stop is Covid Land —- and it’s 5 – 6 – 7 open up the Pearly gates —- be the first one on your block to have your kid come home in a box —- we ain’t got time to wonder why, whoopie, we’re all gonna die”” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sid Hartha

    August 17, 2021 at 2:22 am

    Thanks for posting Dr. Longini’s work – the most accurate published forecast as of Aug 16. I hope the number of cases goes down soon.

  • Steve Who

    August 24, 2021 at 11:27 am

    Objectively speaking here… If the vaccine works then why are people getting angry at unvaccinated people? Theoretically, the vaccinated are safe and the unvaccinated are risking life and limb. So I don’t understand the argument. If you are vaccinated why do you care if the unvaccinated get sick and die? You can’t “Love them and want them to live” because you hate on them constantly. Basically, if vaccines and masks work then being angry at strangers for not doing it is kinda silly don’t you think. Get the vaccine and wear 2 masks like the CDC says and you should live for ever, everyone else will die and you won’t have to worry about them anymore, right?

    As for the political side of things, I believe it is a damned if you do damned if you don’t scenario. People are moving out of lockdown states to move to open states in hoards. While people in open states only complain that they are open. Being open docent mean you have to go to the restaurant or the bar, it only means that you can choose to do so. Anyone in an open state like Florida has the option to lock them selves down or go out. There is no law against staying home or homeschooling your children. There is even virtual learning now that should assist with locking your own families down if you choose not to go out.

    Personally, I am not vaccinated but I don’t care who is or is not. I do isolate myself more now then before the pandemic started. I do not go to bars and clubs, I order meals for delivery, I do not travel. I have not contracted COVID 19 or my children and wife (knock on wood). The largest reason for not getting vaccinated for me is the lack of accountability. There is no science to determine that there will be no long term side effects. Also there is no accountability if there are long term side effects. You can not sue any of the manufactures, can not sue the government, can not sue the dr who gave it to you. That being said if I die in 5 years due to a long term side effect from COVID my family will lose everything. Id rather socially distance and hermit down in my house that leave it in the hands of the vaccine.

    That being said I hope everyone makes choices that they believe will best protect them and their families. I also hope that the political climate will quit driving wedges between Americans based on Race, Religion, Class, and now Vaccine status. We are all Americans and we should all be looking out for each other regardless of anything.

Comments are closed.


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