Texas Tech Epidemic model indicates COVID-19 is here to stay

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LUBBOCK, Texas –Professors within the Texas Tech University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering through the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering developed a epidemiological model for predicting the spread of coronavirus.

Zeina Khan, PhD, said she usually experiments on cancer cells, but has now shifted her attention to coronavirus.

“I studied some classical epidemiological models but realized quickly that they would fail to capture the essential features of COVID-19 and of our society,” Khan said.

She became interested studying people who are asymptomatic, loss of immunity, and effects of lockdowns.

“It was based on that frame view point that we started something new,” Khan said.

Based on their research, by Oct. 1, there could be more than 3 million coronavirus cases in the U.S. and more than 235,000 total deaths.

“I was surprised as to how – once lockdowns were released in our simulation the numbers of cases just shot right up, and I suppose we’re seeing that in practice,” Khan said.

So far they have made predictions for nine states including Texas, Illinois, Florida and Arizona. According to their research, they have found coronavirus will be around for at least two more years, and that is if lockdowns are followed.

“It is exponentially dependent on the initial values if the number of infected people is ten as opposed to 10 thousand, then the growth will be much more,” Fazle Hussain, President’s Endowed Distinguished Chair in Engineering, Science & Medicine said. “And yes, the indications are I think they opened not only Texas, most states opened early enough.”

Other factors Hussain said play a role are culture, food habits, skin color, and political systems. With their research, they hope it will spread awareness for folks to take the disease more seriously.

“It is a joke if you think it is only for a short time, it’s going to go away. It is not. It’s here. So get used to it. Adjust your lifestyle, accept the reality. This is what it is,” Hussain said.

The professors submitted their paper ‘A Predictive Model for COVID-19 Spread Applied to Six U.S. States’ to various journals and multidisciplinary publications.

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