Getting the Covid-19 virus under control is key to reopening economies.
This means businesses are attempting to monitor the metrics that show the level of infection in their populations, such as the effective reproduction number and the positivity rate.
“There are several tools that companies can use to assess the ongoing impacts of Covid,” said Lomelo. “The main purpose of these tools is really to provide projections of the number of cases and the number of deaths, usually on a daily and cumulative basis anywhere from the next four weeks to the next six months.”
Most countries, and even some areas within the US have surpassed the first wave of infections, while some trials of vaccines have shown some positive results.
“RMS has begun to take these factors into consideration in our pandemic projections,” said Lomelo. “And in September we are going to launch new pandemic outlooks that will account for assumptions on vaccine availability, efficacy and distribution.
“These outlooks can help companies explore how vaccinating the population at different rates and at different times would mitigate the impacts of a winter wave that might coincide with the upcoming flu season.”
LifeRisks was launched in 2012 to assess mortality and longevity risks and includes an infectious disease model.
Lomelo noted that the experience of Covid-19 so far has confirmed RMS’s initial view that it is a high transmissibility but low mortality disease.
As a novel disease, the understanding of Covid-19 is only nine months old so new knowledge is learned every day.
One recent example was the first Covid-19 reinfection, which was confirmed on 24 August in Hong Kong.
“So the latest data research reshapes our understanding and assumptions about the key characteristics, and in the context of reinfection what this means is that attaining herd immunity is going to become less likely if people are starting to lose immunity over time,” said Lomelo.
“Also, without long term immunity Covid is likely to become an endemic disease that has the potential to evolve into a seasonal pattern similar to what we see with seasonal flu, and also vaccination against Covid might be needed beyond the current pandemic.”
She added that a lot of the impact of Covid-19 on mortality was expected, with those with compromised immune systems more impacted. But the virus impacts those in the older age bands far more whereas it might have been expected to affect young people as well.
One of the biggest surprises was the need for a global lockdown, Lomelo said.
“From a mortality standpoint, this pandemic is within the realms of what would have been expected given the characteristics but for a global lockdown to occur it is unprecedented,” she said.
“That is why the key to returning to what will be the new normal is to have the transmissions under control. With a high transmissible disease that is asymptomatic or at least mild symptoms in many individuals it becomes very different to get it under control,” Lomelo concluded.