Facebook Twitter

The best and worst-case predictions for the omicron variant this winter

New modeling on the omicron variant unveiled two new scenarios that could play out

SHARE The best and worst-case predictions for the omicron variant this winter
An illustration of the omicron variant, the COVID-19 vaccine and COVID-19 treatments.

New modeling on the omicron variant unveiled two new scenarios that could play out

Photo illustration by Alex Cochran, Deseret News

Researchers from the COVID-19 Modeling Consortium at the University of Texas at Austin, recently discovered two major scenarios that could unfold with the omicron variant in the coming months.

The report — which was published through the University of Texas at Austin, and has not been peer-reviewed — offered a deep dive into the emergence of the omicron variant and its potential spread.

  • “Across all scenarios we expect to see cases that are at least as high as the Delta surge in September 2021, but that would be the minimum,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers, director of the UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium, according to STAT News. “At a maximum we could see a surge in cases that is even higher than our January 2021 surge, which would make it the biggest national surge seen to date.”

Scenario 1 — Omicron leads to 342,000 deaths in six months.

The first scenario was based on the omicron variant being no more transmissible than the delta variant. However, in this scenario, the omicron variant could better evade vaccines and cause more cases of severe COVID-19. There were also low booster vaccination numbers in this scenario.

  • This resulted in 342,000 deaths in the first six months of 2022 — a 20% increase over 2021 numbers.

Scenario 2 — Omicron leads to 50% fewer deaths.

The second scenario assumed that the omicron variant had higher transmissibility compared to the delta variant. However, this scenario suggested omicron couldn’t evade vaccines and there was a higher number of booster shots.

  • This results in 50% fewer deaths compared to 2021.

So far, it seems our society is somewhere in the middle of the two scenarios.

A recent lab study found the omicron variant of the novel coronavirus spreads about 70 times faster than the delta variant, which would line up with the second scenario. But the omicron variant has been suggested to evade vaccines, which would line up with the second scenario. Booster numbers have climbed as of late, too, which puts us more in the second scenario camp.

It’s unclear what will happen with the omicron variant. But experts still recommend getting the COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots to stay safe from COVID-19, severe symptoms and hospitalizations.