Modeling of Future COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations, and Deaths, by Vaccination Rates and Nonpharmaceutical Intervention Scenarios - United States, April-September 2021

Borchering RK, Viboud C, Howerton E, Smith CP, Truelove S, Runge MC, Reich NG, Contamin L, Levander J, Salerno J, van Panhuis W, Kinsey M, Tallaksen K, Obrecht RF, Asher L, Costello C, Kelbaugh M, Wilson S, Shin L, Gallagher ME, Mullany LC, Rainwater-Lovett K, Lemaitre JC, Dent J, Grantz KH, Kaminsky J, Lauer SA, Lee EC, Meredith HR, Perez-Saez J, Keegan LT, Karlen D, Chinazzi M, Davis JT, Mu K, Xiong X, Pastore Y Piontti A, Vespignani A, Srivastava A, Porebski P, Venkatramanan S, Adiga A, Lewis B, Klahn B, Outten J, Schlitt J, Corbett P, Telionis PA, Wang L, Peddireddy AS, Hurt B, Chen J, Vullikanti A, Marathe M, Healy JM, Slayton RB, Biggerstaff M, Johansson MA, Shea K, Lessler J

After a period of rapidly declining U.S. COVID-19 incidence during January-March 2021, increases occurred in several jurisdictions (1,2) despite the rapid rollout of a large-scale vaccination program. This increase coincided with the spread of more transmissible variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, including B.1.1.7 (1,3) and relaxation of COVID-19 prevention strategies such as those for businesses, large-scale gatherings, and educational activities. To provide long-term projections of potential trends in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub teams used a multiple-model approach comprising six models to assess the potential course of COVID-19 in the United States across four scenarios with different vaccination coverage rates and effectiveness estimates and strength and implementation of nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) (public health policies, such as physical distancing and masking) over a 6-month period (April-September 2021) using data available through March 27, 2021 (4). Among the four scenarios, an accelerated decline in NPI adherence (which encapsulates NPI mandates and population behavior) was shown to undermine vaccination-related gains over the subsequent 2-3 months and, in combination with increased transmissibility of new variants, could lead to surges in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. A sharp decline in cases was projected by July 2021, with a faster decline in the high-vaccination scenarios. High vaccination rates and compliance with public health prevention measures are essential to control the COVID-19 pandemic and to prevent surges in hospitalizations and deaths in the coming months.