With COVID-19 numbers trending upward again and the Delta variant increasing the threat of infection, many are expressing fatigue with the endless ups and downs of the pandemic.
NBC Connecticut's Dan Corcoran spoke with Dr. Pedro Mendez of the University of Connecticut's Center for Cell Analysis and Modeling to talk about his analysis of COVID-19 data and when cases could finally peak.
Q: So Dr. Mendez, you've been analyzing the COVID-19 data, and you're sort of trying to predict the future here, right? So first, for those of us who aren't scientists, and most of us are not, explain to us what sort of information you do look at to get a better sense of where our state might be headed.
A: Well, the data that I look at is the numbers that the state puts out every day. And also relating to hospitalizations, number of infections, number of deaths, I'm also taking the data from testing. And now since we have started it earlier this year, vaccination levels as well. And then I use a model that includes the known mechanisms that we that we know how viruses passed from person to person. And that model tries to compute, first of all tries to fit the data that we have already in the past, and then tries to compute what we expect going forward.
Q: So now that you've looked at some of that data, let's talk about what you were seeing. So has the Delta variant thrown a wrench into things because a lot of us were hoping that by now we'd be in a different, much better place than where we are?
A: Yes, indeed, we all did. However, the Delta variant certainly has changed things a little bit. And it has been harder to predict how the epidemic is propagating with Delta than it was with the previous variants.
Q: So do we know if we've peaked yet? Or is that going to be happening soon? Does the modeling show anything about what shape we'll be in by November or December when the holidays roll around?
A: Well, I would not trust the model to go that far into the future. One of the things that the model, of course, cannot predict is whether a new variant will appear. And that is always possible. Unfortunately, right now, there are a lot of variants. So I use six different models with slightly different assumptions. And they have a lot of variability. So there are some of the models predicting we are peaking by now. And some of the models predict that we will peak later in September, perhaps towards the second half of September. So I would say to people that they should be careful. Of course, they should be vaccinated if they can and wear masks whenever they're indoors and perhaps even outdoors when there's lots of people.