Nowcasting transmission and suppression of the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 in Australia

Sheryl L. Chang, Oliver M. Cliff, Mikhail Prokopenko
As of July 2021, there is a continuing outbreak of the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant of SARS-CoV-2 in Sydney, Australia. The outbreak is of major concern as the Delta variant is estimated to have twice the reproductive number to previous variants that circulated in Australia in 2020, which is worsened by low levels of acquired immunity in the population. Using a re-calibrated agent-based model, we explored a feasible range of non-pharmaceutical interventions, in terms of both mitigation (case isolation, home quarantine) and suppression (school closures, social distancing). Our nowcasting modelling indicated that the level of social distancing currently attained in Sydney is inadequate for the outbreak control. A counter-factual analysis suggested that if 80% of agents comply with social distancing, then at least a month is needed for the new daily cases to reduce from their peak to below ten. A small reduction in social distancing compliance to 70% lengthens this period to over two months.

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