Sunday, September 26

Experts point out that a third wave could start in the middle of Christmas as the data worsens

Neighbors of Elche walk protected with masks

Neighbors of Elche walk protected with masks

Just ten days ago, the news about the advance of the coronavirus pandemic in the Valencian Community were encouraging: the second wave was down and, if that rate of decline was maintained, it was possible to aspire to reach a more than enviable situation at the gates of Christmas. Now, the scenario has changed and it is possible that we will not even get better in fifteen days but that by Christmas Day it has in fact begun the third wave of the pandemic.

It is one of the possibilities suggested by the researchers at the “Operational Research Center” (CIO) University Institute of the Miguel Hernández University of Alicante through, a mathematical tool to monitor and forecast the evolution of the pandemic by municipalities. The tool draws on consolidated data from active cases from the last 14 days, with a different count than those of Health, hence their figures tend to be above the magnitudes offered by the Ministry. Thus, depending on how the evolution goes, the tool «predicts» which scenarios we may find in the future, leaving a fork between what would be more common, and two other scenarios: the most favorable and the most unfavorable.

The rate of reproduction of the virus has grown again: in Valencia it has rebounded to 0.92

If at the beginning of the month and with “official” data until December 3, the tool predicted a substantial drop in the three scenarios, even reaching September figures, the model has changed radically when entering the data until December 10. According to this new update, if everything remains the same, the curve would continue to fall, although not at the same rate. The problem is that now, the worst scenario no longer registers a decline but rather a significant rebound in active cases that would, in fact, augur the start of a third wave of the pandemic.

“The downward path that we were taking has actually slowed down and the possibility of a great change, for the worse, has been introduced because the speed of spread of the virus has increased compared to what occurred in previous weeks,” he says Jose Luis Sainz-Pardo, researcher member of the CIO and developer of together with José Valero and Juan Francisco Monge.

Comparison of predictions

Data from the Ministry of Health corroborate that, indeed, the tortilla could be turned over in a matter of days. You just have to look at the evolution of the basic reproduction number, which marks how fast the pandemic is progressing by counting how many people each infected person infects. Since November 8, more or less when the second curve marked its peak, the R0 has been descending: from 1.01 on that day to 0.84 on November 27. Since then, however, the figure has only rebounded: as of December 3, it was at 0.88. The evolution is clearer in the province of Valencia: from 0.83 on November 27 to 0.92 on December 3. Remember that above 1, the pandemic is considered out of control.

Bridge data is missing

The change of scenery has occurred after collecting data until December 10, which really reflects the infections that have occurred during the last weekend of November or early December.

The possible negative impact of the Constitution Bridge has not yet begun to be reflected in the figures

The explanation would then have to be sought in the increase in social interactions without the due precautions around the «Black Friday» or relaxation due to the proximity of Christmas because, really, the impact that the Constitution Bridge may have had will not begin to be seen for a few days.

From the Miguel Hernández University, mathematical experts warn that, if it passes through this unfavorable scenario, the third wave could “have an impact just as acute as the second and not reach the ceiling until mid-March,” explains Sainz-Pardo.

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