Study: Researchers predict end of omicron wave is near

New study from University of Florida shows peak will be next week

Researchers at University of Florida released a new study projecting the end of the omicron wave is near, but they said it will get worse before it gets better.

The updated study supersedes the model released in December.

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Ira Longini is a biostatistics professor at the University of Florida and a coauthor in the study. He said a lot has changed since their first projection.

“There was a very fast rise in omicron cases, much faster than we predicted,” Longini said.

However, Longini said he was not entirely shocked because they projected a large peak.

“We had no doubt there (would) be an enormous wave of infections and reported cases in Florida,” he said.

Longini said they projected infections would rise at a lower rate of speed and believed the peak would be in mid-February.

“We were off a bit because the incubation period of the virus was shorter it turns out than we thought,” he said.

Longini said those who were infected by omicron became infectious twice as fast.

He said the omicron variant has a three-day incubation period compared to the delta variant’s five-day incubation period, causing the omicron variant to spread across Florida quicker.

Now researchers believe we will peak by the second week of January. Longini predicts infections will reach about 80,000 cases per day.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of Tuesday, the daily case rate in Florida was 59,487.

“The omicron severity will be lower than delta because of the protection against severe disease once gained from vaccination,” he said.

Longini adds there will be more severe cases in younger children, though mainly because those under five are not vaccinated.

Unless a new variant arrives in Florida, Longini predicts low levels of COVID-19 by the end of January and somewhat of a return to normalcy.

“I don’t think we can ever let our guard down against (COVID-19). It’s probably here to stay,” Longini said.

He said COVID-19 may become a seasonal virus.

The professor said we need to approach this as a community and continue getting vaccinated to prevent severe disease.

About the Author:

Treasure joined News 6 at the start of 2021, coming to the Sunshine State from Michigan.