COVID-19 simulator predicts more deaths from the Delta variant

Aug. 17, 2021

Investigators who previously developed the COVID-19 Simulator — which models the trajectory of COVID-19 in the U.S. at the state and national levels — have applied the tool to analyze potential scenarios in which the COVID-19 Delta variant becomes dominant in every state, according to a news release from Massachusetts General Hospital. 

The analysis, which is published on the preprint server medRxiv, reveals that the combination of high transmissibility of the Delta variant, low vaccination coverage in several regions, and more relaxed attitudes toward social distancing will likely lead to a surge in COVID-19-related deaths in at least 40 states.

The simulator also predicts that in several states, daily COVID-19-related deaths could exceed the peak daily deaths that occurred in early 2021 if current social distancing behaviors and vaccination rates remain unchanged.

An additional 157,000 COVID-19-related deaths could occur across the United States between August 1 and December 31, 2021. The model projects approximately 20,700 COVID-19-related deaths in Texas, 16,000 in California, 12,400 in Florida, 12,000 in North Carolina, and 9,300 in Georgia during this period. In contrast, the projected number of COVID-19-related deaths would remain below 200 in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and Rhode Island.

The team’s projections are updated weekly by incorporating vaccination rates and social distancing measures in each state, and the latest results can be found at the COVID-19 Simulator website.

“These projections should serve as a warning sign, especially in states that could have higher daily COVID-19 deaths than their previous peaks,” says lead author Jagpreet Chhatwal, PhD, Associate Director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Institute for Technology Assessment and Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School. “We also hope that our projections can help policymakers bring back mask mandates and further advocate for COVID-19 vaccines.”

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