IHME Model Shows Power of Social Distancing in COVID-19 Battle
You may have watched the White House press briefings and heard them refer to using the "Chris Murray Model" to predict coronavirus impact across the United States. It's an amazing thing to study.
The "Chris Murray Model" to which they refer is actually metrics created by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which is an independent global health research center at the University of Washington.
Dr. Christopher J.L. Murray is the Director of the IHME, which uses real data to predict the impact to the populations of cities around the world and what hospitals can do to prepare. Researchers and policymakers to use this data to make key decisions.
What I found intriguing is that before Minnesota had any stay-at-home orders or social distancing measures in place, it was predicted that the state could expect over 2,000 COVID-19 deaths by August 4.
Now, since there have been measures put in place since March 27, which were recently extended to May 4, the estimated number of COVID-19 related deaths in Minnesota has currently dropped to 456 by August 4. The state is expected to hit its peak on April 26 and will need at least 131 invasive ventilators. This is if Minnesota maintains social distancing measures through May.
The model takes into account any new health or research developments and social policy changes.
The big question involves if there will be a major second wave of the virus after this initial hit. According to IHME researchers:
The question of whether there will be a second wave of the epidemic will depend on what we do to avoid reintroducing COVID-19 into the population. By the end of the first wave of the epidemic, a substantial proportion of the population of the United States and EEA countries are likely to still be susceptible to the disease and thus measures to avoid a second wave of the pandemic prior to vaccine availability will be necessary. Maintaining some social distancing measures could be supplemented or replaced by nation-wide efforts such as mass screening, contact tracing, and selective quarantine. We are continuing to develop our modeling framework and are exploring alternate scenarios where social distancing measures are incompletely applied or are lifted before the projected first wave of the epidemic has passed. We will make these projections available as soon as development is complete.
This is why social distancing is crucial in the fight against COVID-19. The longer we can do it, the less people that will succumb to the virus. Until there is an effective vaccine, this virus will not disappear. It's not easy, but some form of what we're currently doing will have to be maintained until there is a vaccine.
Follow the link below to access the IHME COVID-19 Projections website. It's fascinating in that you can select entire populations, or break it down by individual states by using the drop-down menu.