LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (KRQE) – While the country looks to experts and scientists to help guide people through the pandemic, epidemiologists from Los Alamos National Laboratory are helping in the battle against the coronavirus.
For more than a decade, Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists have been tracking and forecasting infectious diseases from all over the world. Currently, the CDC is using the LANL model for COVID-19 to help keep people safe.
“It gives us something to expect and something to plan for, and I think that’s a utility of this model is that folks who are planning for hospitalizations, and planning on what to do next, have at least something to go on,” explained Carrie Manore, Mathematical Epidemiologist with LANL.
In January, Manore was mainly focused on modeling the spread of infectious diseases like Zika and West Nile Virus. Her team is now working around-the-clock on their COVID-19 model, in conjunction with the CDC to provide the best possible projections for the U.S.
They’re using data from confirmed cases and deaths to forecast when states across the country hit their daily peak. Right now their model shows a 57% chance New Mexico already saw its daily peak and a 43% chance that peak could come in May.
The LANL model is among the few forecasts the CDC is using to create health guidelines. Manore says things like test rates can change their projections as we go along.
“One thing that could happen is if testing really ramps up and we start testing way more people, we could see an increase in confirmed cases, even though maybe the transmission isn’t necessarily increasing, and that’s something we’ve thought about with our model,” Manore told KRQE News 13.
Manore says there is a chance for a second outbreak if we go back to business as usual, since most people are still susceptible to COVID-19, so she encourages the public to follow health guidelines.
“I think we have hope there that what we’re doing appears to be working in terms of slowing the growth down,” said Manore.
Every year about a dozen labs work to forecast the flu season. Last year, the CDC awarded LANL with the best model, most accurately predicting the virus’s timing, peak, and intensity.
After years of studying and modeling influenza, Manore said all of their data and information indicate that COVID-19 is both more contagious and more deadly than the flu.
LANL plans to put out a global COVID-19 forecast model in the next couple of weeks.