Making sense of a changing pandemic picture

The world is still learning about Covid-19 and how to cope with it, and as RMS’ Maria Lomelo said, this balancing act is proving to be a tough one to master.

Maria Lomelo, director – model product management, RMS

For those insurers closely monitoring the Covid-19 pandemic to ascertain its ongoing business impact, the last few months have clearly shown how each country is on its own trajectory. Some countries where a downward trend had previously been evident have seen a notable rise in the number of Covid-19 cases since the easing of lockdowns. Other countries have seen only clusters of infections that have not impacted the overall decreasing trend.

Countries are at different stages of their response, whether they are trying to control their initial wave of cases, or where they have contained the original outbreak and are making tentative steps to move towards normal life.

Fighting the virus

Insurers are also examining the measures to counter Covid-19. On a potential vaccine, over 100 candidates are racing to get through all stages of vaccine development, with some candidates moving into human trial phases as researchers try to shrink the entire end-to-end development to just 12 months. For therapeutics, a similar exploration is happening, using a mix of new or existing available pharmaceuticals to check their efficacy against Covid-19.

My colleague Gordon Woo recently published a blog on Dexamethasone, which in an Oxford University trial on hospitalized patients, showed that it reduced deaths by one-third in ventilated patients, and one-fifth for patients receiving oxygen only. Remdesivir had also seen positive effects, reducing recovery time for patients battling with Covid-19.

“RMS has now launched new pandemic risk outlooks to account for the possibility of a second wave and assumptions on vaccine availability”

There is a lot to consider, and it is difficult to navigate across the data with every country (or US state) having different rates for new Covid-19 cases, death rates, mandated and voluntary interventions and policies on reopening their economies. To help the industry, RMS has used its LifeRisks modeling to deliver RMS Covid-19 Pandemic Projections—designed to give insurers a meaningful projection period of three to six months ahead.

The solution uses the historical Covid-19 daily data together with a range of pandemic outlooks that account for varying assumptions about compliance to intervention measures, treatment availability and effectiveness to show the projected number of cases, deaths, hospitalizations, as well as the hospital beds and intensive care units in use. Daily and cumulative projections include the median trajectory and 95 percent confidence bounds to provide insight into the range of uncertainty. Exceedance probability curves provide the potential for exceeding the number of cases/deaths/hospitalizations at the end of the projection period.

RMS is launching in September new pandemic risk outlooks to account for the possibility of a second wave and assumptions on vaccine availability, efficacy, and distribution. These new risk outlooks will help companies explore how vaccinating the population at different rates and times would mitigate the impacts of a second wave that may coincide with the upcoming flu season.

All of these insights are accessible via an easy to use dashboard, as well as providing access to all of the underlying data used to generate the projections. Accepting the wide differences between countries and even cities, the insights are available for 15 key cities, 18 US states and 15 countries.

As governments—both state and national, balance the virus against the competing needs of education, healthcare capacity and their economies, the projection tool allows for a view to be taken on the introduction or withdrawn of different measures. And if the history of this pandemic, which was confirmed as a pandemic on 11 March, shows—the world is still learning about the virus and how to cope with it, and this balancing act is proving to be a tough one to master.