What are UK Government advisers seeing?

I have developed some model scenarios that show examples of what might be behind expert advice on the caution required with new SARS-Cov-2 variants. The scenarios indicate the importance of the UK vaccine programme, as we face variants with potentially different characteristics of transmission, severity of infection and responsiveness to vaccines. Understanding those variant characteristics is vital for projections.

Why the UK Government is worried about new variants

I have developed some model scenarios that show examples of what might be behind expert advice on the caution required with new SARS-Cov-2 variants. The scenarios indicate the importance of the UK vaccine programme, as we face variants with potentially different characteristics of transmission, severity of infection and responsiveness to vaccines.

Exploring new variants, vaccines and NPIs

There has been increasing concern recently about SARS-Cov-2 variants that might escape vaccines to some extent, as well as having different transmission rates (as the Kent variant does), and causing different severity of illness with higher mortality. I have added a vaccination efficacy modifier, var_eff, by variant, as a multiplier to the standard vaccination efficacy, vac_eff, to help model such potential variants that have a partial or total capability to escape vaccines, and this post shows examples of how that works, using a third variant introduced to the model on January 1st 2021. In addition, I have completed adding fSS (the fraction of people becoming seriously sick from each variant) and fmort (fatality of the variant) by Covid variant.

Tuning the age and vulnerability model

In my latest post on March 26th I described a new Coronavirus group model, based on work I had done as a UK case study in support of Prof. Alex de Visscher’s paper, in conjunction with Dr. Tom Sutton, on “Second-wave Dynamics of COVID-19: Impact of Behavioral Changes, Immunity Loss, New Strains, and Vaccination” which has now been published for peer review as a pre-print on Springer’s site at https://www.researchsquare.com/article/rs-195879/v1. I have now added the latest UK vaccination progress figures, and the UK Government’s announced intentions for the near future regarding Non Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs). I have also updated mortality and infection characteristics for the four different population groups in the model.

NPIs, variants and vaccine models

This paper reports some parametric Coronavirus model runs I have made that compare, in particular, how the UK vaccine programme allows some NPI relaxation compared with a case with no vaccination. The outcome is that the vaccine programme in the UK has the potential to reduce the imposition of NPIs on March 7th by about 15%, without costing lives, this being the next time we in the UK are due for a major NPI review, potentially involving the return of schools at around March 7th.

USA Thanksgiving lessons for UK Christmas and New Year?

We are aware that the rates of cases and deaths in the USA have increased steeply recently, and it seems that the natural public relaxation in precautions against Covid-19 for the Thanksgiving holiday period have exacerbated this. I have run my model with reductions to the USA intervention effectiveness during the Thanksgiving period (reflecting the increase in travel and social interactions in the USA) followed by reintroduction of the intervention effectiveness afterwards, to see the effect on the immediate projections. I have then applied similar changes to my UK models, to anticipate what the possible effect of such relaxations over the UK festive period might be. This is very much a sensitivity test of some scenarios, not a forecast.

The end of the beginning*

Now that it seems clear that a vaccination programme in the UK might start as early as next week, I have re-run my Covid-19 vaccination model for the UK, updating the November 25th scenarios (which begin on January 1st 2021) to reflect some potential UK outcomes.

Modelling of vaccine strategies

In my most recent post on November 18th, about updating my Coronavirus model to handle the impact of vaccines, I gave some examples of how case numbers, and more specifically death rates might be improved for the UK through a vaccination programme. Now that there seem to be several vaccines imminent, with efficacies ranging from 70% (Astra-Zeneca/Oxford) through 90% (A-Z/O via a different inoculation regime, and Pfizer), to 95% (Moderna) and several others in the mix, I explore some sensitivities in more detail, and also apply the model to the USA.

Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaciiiine,…(don’t refuse it, just because you can)

In the news today, I read that Dolly Parton had given $1,000,000, through her Covid-19 Research Fund, to help fund the Moderna vaccine development. As The Times newspaper reported, this – erm – somewhat trumps the White House contribution to public safety. In her honour, Ryan Cordell composed and performed this ditty. The timing neatly coincides with the work I have been doing to incorporate vaccination into my Coronavirus model, and to that end I have been researching ways of modelling vaccination. I have made some appropriate changes, and run some model options for different vaccine efficacy; vaccinations per day; and date of starting the vaccination programme.

Make America well again

I look at the impact of a postulated change in the timing of further measures to control the Covid-19 epidemic in the USA, against a current background of rapidly increasing daily case numbers and deaths. I also show an updated projection for the UK, both compared with Worldometers forecasts