WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Two Purdue University math researchers have predicted the novelH1N1 flu will peak so early that planned vaccinations will not havea large effect on the number of people infected.
Sherry Towers, from Purdue's statistics department, andZhilan Feng, from Purdue's math department, used a mathematicalmodel to predict the spread of the disease. They used datacollected by the Centers for Disease Control in May, June,July and August.
The result? The model predicted that H1N1 infections will reachtheir peak in either the week before or the week afterHalloween.
The researchers said this early peak for the disease mean thatthe vaccination campaign will only reduce infections by, at most,6%. However, as the model also predicted that 63% of the USpopulation will have been infected by the end of the year, a 6%reduction could still mean that the vaccinations could savethousands of lives.
While 63% of the US population sounds like a huge figure, Towersexplained that this figure represents the total number of infectedpeople, not the number of people showing symptoms.
"In the paper we point out that many studies have shown thatwhile a large number of people may be infected by influenza, onlyabout 40 percent of those people who are infected actually showsigns of illness," Towers said. "So, in our paper, we actuallystate that in the end only about 25 percent of people will likelyfall ill."
Towers said they do not want to discourage anyone from gettingan H1N1 vaccination.
Feng cautioned their model was "very simple," and noted that thepair had to make a lot of assumptions to get a result.
"You have to be careful about following the prediction of thestudy," said Feng.
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