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New data from UT modeling consortium indicates COVID-19 hospitalizations peak this week

The COVID-19 modeling group released new projections for the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan area. Here's what the report shows.

AUSTIN, Texas — The latest wave of COVID-19 hospitalizations driven by the Omicron variant has just about reached its peak in the Austin area, according to the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium.

The research group released its latest predictions Tuesday, specifically tailored for the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan area. The group originally developed the model to provide national-scale scenario projections at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the consortium said. 

Two different scenarios indicate that the 7-day average of new COVID-19 hospitalizations reached its peak on Jan. 25, but have varying dates on when the number of COVID-related ICU patients will peak. The consortium also projected that the 7-day rolling average of new reported cases in the Austin area reached a peak on Jan. 9.

Here's a closer look at the two scenarios:

Pessimistic scenario

Under this scenario, the Omicron variant is predicted to be 33% less severe than the Delta variant, but is 155% more transmissible and has a 42.5%, 32% and 22% reduced protection against infection, hospitalization and death respectively. 

The 7-day rolling average of new hospital admissions is predicted to reach a peak of 148 on Jan. 25. Meanwhile, the 7-day rolling average of COVID-19 patients in ICUs will reach a peak of 236 on Feb. 7. 

Optimistic scenario

In the optimistic scenario, Omicron is predicted to be also 33% less severe than Delta, and has 85%, 10% and 10% reduced protection against infection, hospitalization and death respectively.

The 7-day rolling average of new hospital admissions is also predicted to reach a peak on Jan. 25, with 140 admissions. The 7-day rolling average of patients in the ICU is expected to reach a peak of 205 on Feb. 3.

According to both scenarios, ICU admissions will peak in early February, sometime within the first week.

The projections were made under the assumption that as of late October 2021, nearly a quarter of the population has immunity from prior infection and that just over 62% of the Austin population has been fully vaccinated, among other factors like transmission rate and immunity post-vaccination.

On Jan. 6, the consortium released projections relating to the Omicron variant in the U.S. which indicated infections would peak in late January. Although infections and hospitalizations were predicted to peak this month with ICU patients peaking in early February, postdoctoral researcher with the modeling consortium Annass Bouchnita previously said the nation would begin to see "manageable numbers" at the beginning of March. 

"I think on the national level, we should have manageable numbers of cases until stabilization at the beginning of March," Bouchnita told KVUE in mid-January. "And so if my speculation is correct and if we compare the data that we are having from between us and the U.S., then it seems that maybe by the end of March, we would have manageable levels of hospitalizations and deaths and cases."

Read the latest report from the consortium here.

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