Worst-case fall modelling projects 9,000 daily COVID-19 cases in Ontario

Sep 2 2021, 4:36 pm

The Ontario COVID-19 Science Table released foreboding new modelling Wednesday that forecasts up to 9,000 daily infections by October if current vaccination rates hold steady.

Those worst-case predictions could come true if the province continues to plateau at 76% of eligible residents being fully vaccinated and people increase their social contacts as the weather cools.

The Table now says at least 85% of eligible Ontarians need to be fully vaccinated to avoid another lockdown in autumn with the more contagious Delta variant circulating.

“Vaccination is effective at the individual level. But as we accelerate our vaccine rollout, we also need to take other measures beyond vaccine to stop Delta,” the Science Table said on Twitter.

The experts say public health measures are still needed to curb the fourth wave, and Ontario can’t rely on vaccination alone. In particular, they recommend keeping contacts between people to 70% of pre-pandemic levels until vaccination levels increase.

Other precautions that will help include reducing indoor density of people, limiting large gatherings, continuing indoor mask policies, continue working from home, and using policies that encourage vaccination such as certificates for non-essential activities.

The Table warned that opening the province further with current vaccination rates could mean ICUs will get overwhelmed by October. It predicted a surge even worse than what happened during the Third Wave in April and May.

graph ICU

COVID-19 Science Table

In a graph predicting where case counts could go heading into fall, the epidemiologists drew a sharply increasing red line showing what could happen if people increase their social contacts. In that scenario, the province could hit 9,000 cases per day by the first week of October.

A more level green line predicting less than 1,000 cases per day could become reality if social contacts are further reduced in the weeks ahead.

The m0delling accounts for continuing progress on vaccination.


COVID-19 Science Table

The scientists say the fourth wave will peak earlier in cities than in rural communities, and that more shots need to go into arms if people expect to gather as usual this winter.

The updated predictions come as Ontario announced plans for a province-wide vaccine certificate program for certain non-essential activities.

People will need to show they’re fully immunized to dine at restaurants, exercise at gyms, visit nightclubs, and attend large events as of September 22.


Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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