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MIL OSI Translation. Region: Germany / Deutschland –

Source: Forschungszentrum Julich-Jülich, November 6, 2020 – Germany is currently in the “lockdown light” due to the rapid increase in reported COVID-19 cases. But how will this development continue? In cooperation with the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS), Forschungszentrum Jülich has calculated various possible scenarios for the further course of the pandemic. For this purpose, different numbers and different strict shutdown periods were assumed for the period up to May 2021. The results can provide helpful information to consider the long- and medium-term effects of varying degrees of contact reduction on the infection process; the effectiveness of specific political guidelines cannot be derived directly from them.

In view of the rapid increase in reported COVID-19 cases in Germany, a 4-week “Lockdown Light” was announced on October 28, 2020 (from November 2nd). Using mathematical models that were already developed for predictions during the first COVID-19 wave, the researchers have now simulated possible scenarios for the further course of the pandemic up to spring 2021. The simulations indicate how many new infections reported daily expected in each scenario, and how many intensive care beds would be required to care for the patient according to the prediction. The results suggest that the four-week “lockdown light” in November alone might not be enough to avoid a third, even stronger Covid-19 wave in winter, if all measures of this “lockdown” are then lifted. The introduction of one or two additional two-week shutdown periods in winter and spring as “breakwaters”, on the other hand, could make it possible to maintain basic activities and keep the Covid-19 waves under control. As an alternative to strict, time-limited shutdown periods the simulations show that permanent, less restrictive measures, such as those introduced in many places before the “lockdown light”, could be suitable for permanently containing the epidemic in Germany not to predict the real course exactly, ”says Dr. Jan Fuhrmann from the Simulation Lab Epidemiology and Pandemic at the Jülich Supercomputing Center (JSC). “However, the scenarios clearly show how the epidemic would develop under different measures. We emphasize that the number of cases predicted in the simulations, some of which is very high, will only occur if further measures necessary to contain them are not taken. That would be, for example, locally limited shutdown periods that have not yet been taken into account in the scenarios, ”explains Jan Fuhrmann, who is responsible for the development of the corona epidemic in cooperation with Dr. Maria Barbarossa from the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS).

1st scenario: 4-week shutdown in November, then no further action

Daily new infections (7-day average) in intensive care beds

Without a shutdown in November, the new infections in January would be over 100,000 on a seven-day average. At times, up to 35,000 intensive care beds would be required. But even a 4-week shutdown in November alone was not enough to prevent a temporary increase in intensive care patients to over 20,000 in February / March 2021. The numbers are not forecast to fade until the end of May 2021.

2nd scenario: 4-week shutdown in November, then an additional 2-week shutdown

Daily new infections (7-day average) in intensive care beds

The number of new infections would peak again from March 2021, although it would not be as many as in scenario 1: a maximum of up to 40,000 – 50,000 reported infections daily. The number of intensive care beds likely to be required could be reduced to less than 20,000. In this scenario, too, it could fade away from the end of May.

3rd scenario: 4-week shutdown in November, then 2 additional 2-week shutdowns

Daily new infections (7-day average) in intensive care beds

In the case of three “soft shutdowns”, the peak is expected in February, in other combinations with “strong shutdowns” earlier and with fewer than 40,000 new infections every day. In some combinations, the number of intensive care beds required even falls below 10,000.

What does “Soft / Strong / Severe Shutdown” mean? The distinction between “Soft / Strong / Severe Shutdown” does not refer directly to concrete, actually implemented measures, but rather describes the contact rate assumed for the respective scenarios in the sense of “number of times per unit of time Couple contacts taking place in the population ”. Soft shutdown: Reduction of the contact rate to approx. 35% of the value in late summer, when the number of cases was still low. Strong shutdown: Reduction of the contact rate to approx. 25% of the value in late summer (corresponds to the contact reduction, which is required in the declaration of the Helmholtz Association and other research associations) Severe shutdown: Reduction of the contact rate to approx. 15% of the value in late summer No Shutdown: So-called base reduction of the contact rate to approx. 60% of the value in late summer. This value is also assumed outside of the shutdown periods described above. How is the “Lockdown Light” currently taking place classified? The effect of the “Lockdown Light” is likely to be classified between a “Soft Shutdown” and a “Strong Shutdown”. In principle, it is very difficult to predict the effect of individual measures. Especially because in the past, packages of measures were used rather than individual measures. The effect of individual measures cannot therefore be estimated from the case numbers. We therefore only give scenarios assuming differently strong contact reductions. In particular, it is difficult to estimate the behavior of the population in view of the known figures and political guidelines.

4. Alternative scenario: permanent measures, with and without additional shutdown periods

Daily new infections (7-day average) in intensive care beds

The daily new infections would be a maximum of around 20,000 in this scenario. The number of occupied intensive care beds could probably be reduced to below 10,000.

Assumptions: Soft shutdown: Reduction of the contact rate to approx. 25% of the value in late summer through permanent measures and additional shutdown periods Strong Shutdown: Reduction of the contact rate to approx. 20% of the value in late summer through permanent measures and additional shutdown periods No Shutdown: Reduction the contact rate to approx. 50% of the value in late summer through permanent measures without additional shutdown periods Due to the permanent measures assumed here, the base reduction was somewhat greater than assumed in scenarios 1-3 (50% instead of 60%). In addition to this, further scenarios with additional “soft shutdowns” and “strong shutdowns” were calculated. The current “Lockdown Light” can approximately be assigned to the assumed “Soft Shutdown” in November. Further information: COVID measures – and then? Jülich Supercomputing Center (JSC) Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS) Original publications (for model development in Course of the first Covid-19 wave): Fuhrmann, J., Barbarossa, MV The significance of case detection ratios for predictions on the outcome of an epidemic – a message from mathematical modelersArch Public Health 78, 63 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13690-020-00445-8 Modeling the spread of COVID-19 in Germany: Early assessment and possible scenarios MV Barbarossa, J Fuhrmann, J Meinke, S Krieg, HV Varma, N Castelletti, and Th LippertPLOS ONE 15 (9): e0238559 (2020), https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0238559Kontaktdaten:Dr. Jan FuhrmannForschungszentrum Jülich, Jülich Supercomputing CenterE-Mail: j.fuhrmann@fz-juelich.dePress contact: Tobias SchlößerForschungszentrum Jülich, Corporate CommunicationTel .: 02461 61-4771E-Mail: t.schloesser@fz-juelich.de

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.

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