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US Epidemiological Modeling Institute Predicts Hungarian Coronavirus Catastrophe

Fanni Kaszás 2020.10.05.

Not just Hungarian consultants, virus experts and doctors, but the most prestigious international epidemiological modeling institute also drew attention to the fact that according to their present predictions, if the current trends in Hungary continue, the situation will soon become catastrophic in the country. According to the predictions, by the end of the year, the epidemic could even claim more than 12,500 lives, with a peak expected by the end of November.

The Institute for Health Measurement and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, operating with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is one of the most recognized and trusted research institutes for modeling health trends worldwide. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the institute has been creating mathematical models, which are able to predict with a good approximation what future processes can be expected, such as changes in the epidemic curve, new cases, and mortality. They have also set up different possible scenarios depending on what actions may be taken in the future.

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According to the current forecast of the institute, if the current trends in Hungary continue, the situation will soon become catastrophic. According to their predictions, by the end of the year, the epidemic could even claim more than 12,500 lives, with a peak expected by the end of November. By the expected peak, the institute said that even 35,000 patients will actually be infected per day (the identified and unidentified cases together) and 220 people will die daily from coronavirus and its complications.

According to the institute, this is not even the worst-case scenario, while even so, the number of patients in need of hospital treatment will far exceed the available capacities. However, these numbers could rise much more if restrictions are relaxed, and less if everyone follows the precautions and wears a mask.

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The total number of probable new infections are currently estimated to be around three thousand patients a day. This is a particularly conservative estimate, as most professionals said that they think the real number of infections is around ten times more than the cases identified by testing, which mean around 10-13,000 infections. The institute predicts that the epidemic could peak in exactly one month, with more than 35,000 new cases a day, after which a slow decline could begin. With general mask-wearing, this could be postponed by up to two weeks, with significantly lower numbers.

With regard to hospital beds, the institute says the problem will not be with the occupation of normal hospital beds, as the expected number of patients will be well below the total number of available hospital beds. In contrast, there will be far more patients in need of intensive care than the available intensive care beds in the country. It is already common in the United States for more and more wards to be classified as intensive care units, and this is expected to be the case here as well. With this, of course, the capacity for regular care will be dangerously reduced as well.

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The institute emphasized, however, that these are just model calculations that change from day to day, in the light of events. Much can be done to prevent a predicted disaster from occurring, including adherence to collations and precautions such as wearing a mask.

Featured photo illustration by Zoltán Balogh/MTI