Report Shows 125,000 Fewer US COVID Deaths if 50% Initiate Vaccination by March 1

The report, developed by Thomas McAndrew, a computational scientist and faculty member at Lehigh University's College of Health, and colleagues, uses data from experts and trained forecasters, combining their predictions into a single consensus forecast.

A new report combining forecasting and expert prediction data predicts that 125,000 lives could be saved by the end of 2021 if 50% or more of the US population initiated the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination by March 1, 2021.

The report, developed by Thomas McAndrew, a computational scientist and faculty member at Lehigh University's College of Health, and colleagues, uses data from experts and trained forecasters, combining their predictions into a single consensus forecast. Further, McAndrew and his team produced a metaforecast, which is a combination of an ensemble of computational models and their consensus forecast.

The report includes forecasting analyses on a variety of US COVID-19-related issues, including a number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, and the prevalence of the B.1.1.7 variant, which first emerged in the United Kingdom, according to the study authors.

The findings outline that 125,000 fewer deaths are predicted by the end of 2021, if greater than or equal to 50% of US population initiates vaccination by March 1, 2021. If greater than or equal to 50% of the US population initiates vaccination by this date, the consensus median prediction of the cumulative number of deaths by December 31, 2021 is 520,000. However, if less than 50% of the US population initiates vaccination, the consensus median prediction is 645,000.

Further, a predicted increase in hospitalizations, cases, and deaths has been noted for the weeks beginning January 24 and ending January 30. This includes an increase in the number of pediatric and adult hospital admissions, an increase in the number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19, and an increase in the number of new deaths due to COVID-19, according to the study authors.

The report also shows that a consensus of subject matter experts and trained forecasters predict 87% of US samples sent for genomic sequencing in the first 2 weeks of February that have an S-gene dropout and will be identified as the B.1.1.7 variant. According to the study authors, approximately 22% of samples are being identified as the B.1.1.7 variant.

The approach from McAndrew and his team is different than the traditional approach, the researchers said. Rather than build a computational model to predict cases, deaths, and hospitalizations due to COVID-19, they asked experts and trained forecasters to predict these targets and combined their predictions into a single consensus forecast.

"The idea is to combine computational models with human judgment to make more accurate predictions of the US outbreak," McAndrew said in a press release.

REFERENCE

Forecast: 125,000 fewer U.S. COVID deaths if 50% initiate vaccination by March 1. EurekAlert! https://ekaprdweb01.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-01/lu-ff012921.php. Published January 29, 2021. Accessed February 1, 2021.