Public Health

When Will The COVID-19 Pandemic End? 50 States Forecast

Khang T. Vuong, MHA17 Jan 2021

About the Author

Khang T. Vuong received his Master of Healthcare Administration from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. He was named Forbes Healthcare 2021 30 under 30. Vuong spoke at Stanford Medicine X, HIMSS conference, and served as a Fellow at the Bon Secours Health System.

Two factors that will influence how soon the COVID-19 pandemic will end

According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the number one factor that will determine how quickly we can put an end to the pandemic is the number of people who will be willing to get the vaccine. It is suggested that if we can get 75-85% of the population vaccinated, the COVID-19 pandemic will be functionally over. 

Second, according to the CDC, there are currently two authorized vaccines on the market in the U.S. - manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna. While both of these vaccines have been reported to have a 95% effectiveness, we still need to see how long the immunity effect will last after a large percentage of the population is vaccinated. 

According to McKinsey research, we could reach the end of the COVID-19 pandemic by Q3 2021

McKinsey, a global consulting firm with a network of experts and researchers, released an update on November 23, 2020, which indicated that the U.S. could reach herd immunity as early as Q3-Q4 2021. 

How did McKinsey come up with this prediction? The prediction model was built on several sources of actual data and assumptions. These assumptions included: how quickly the U.S. can reach herd immunity, the vaccine efficacy (the ability to produce desired outcomes), and how long the protection effect will last.  

Credit: McKinsey Research

States with more robust vaccination programs will see back-to-normal sooner than those without. 

Even though the end to the COVID-19 pandemic is foreseeable, not all states will have the same end date. Depending on the speed to reach herd immunity via vaccination or natural infection, each state will have a different timeline. 

To determine how will the pandemic will end in each state, we used the CDC's COVID-19 vaccine tracker data and assume that the distribution of vaccines will ramp up as time goes on (up to 5X the current speed of vaccination). We also assume that the vaccine will be 94-95% effective as mentioned in the FDA analyses. 

Data: CDC | Updated: Jan 16, 2021, 12:16 PM - this forecast will be updated periodically, be sure to check back weekly. 

States% Population VaccinatedHerd Immunity Forecast
West Virginia1.18%April 22, 2021
South Dakota1.09%May 16, 2021
Alaska1.29%May 10, 2021
North Dakota0.99%May 25, 2021
District of Columbia1.17%June 6, 2021
Vermont0.66%June 17, 2021
Connecticut0.48%June 21, 2021
Oklahoma0.73%June 24, 2021
Maine0.62%July 14, 2021
New Hampshire0.42%July 11, 2021
Colorado0.82%July 11, 2021
Nebraska0.68%July 11, 2021
Montana0.77%July 16, 2021
New Mexico0.89%July 11, 2021
Rhode Island0.77%July 22, 2021
Tennessee0.55%July 13, 2021
Louisiana0.65%August 3, 2021
Utah0.33%August 12, 2021
Indiana0.56%August 13, 2021
Florida0.35%August 20, 2021
Texas0.54%August 18, 2021
Arkansas0.62%August 23, 2021
Iowa0.34%August 29, 2021
New York State0.38%August 25, 2021
Wyoming0.48%August 16, 2021
Hawaii0.51%September 30, 2021
Massachusetts0.51%August 29, 2021
Kentucky0.24%August 24, 2021
Delaware0.55%October 11, 2021
Minnesota0.49%September 14, 2021
Illinois0.72%September 18, 2021
Michigan0.49%September 11, 2021
Oregon0.30%September 10, 2021
Pennsylvania0.52%September 22, 2021
Kansas0.46%October 4, 2021
Puerto Rico0.51%October 5, 2021
New Jersey0.41%September 9, 2021
Washington0.42%October 12, 2021
Ohio0.12%October 18, 2021
Maryland0.26%October 17, 2021
Missouri0.60%October 29, 2021
Wisconsin0.29%November 9, 2021
Virginia0.33%November 15, 2021
North Carolina0.41%November 21, 2021
Nevada0.50%December 13, 2021
California0.52%December 13, 2021
Mississippi0.28%November 28, 2021
Arizona0.29%December 14, 2021
Idaho0.50%December 28, 2021
South Carolina0.38%January 24, 2022
Georgia0.21%February 28, 2022
Alabama0.28%March 28, 2022

Data suggests that rapid vaccine rollout and universal mask mandates can reduce daily deaths by at least half

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an independent research center at the University of Washington, publishes periodic predictions using past and current COVID-19 data. Their data has indicated that by February 2021, we could see a 50% or more reduction in daily deaths if rapid vaccine rollout and universal mask mandates are both in effect. 

This emphasizes the point that vaccine alone cannot end the pandemic, but mask-wearing is needed as well. The U.S. vaccine rollout will likely take at least six months to reach 75% to 85% of the population. During that period, COVID could still spread to vulnerable individuals and increase the number of deaths. 

At the same time, easing mandates early could increase the number of deaths significantly. In this forecast, daily deaths on February 20 could increase from 12,000 to 18,932 without mandates. This also means local and state governments will not likely lift in-door dining, gathering, and traveling restrictions until at least Q2 2021. 

Daily deaths prediction updated December 17, 2020 - University of Washington

What happens in 2022? Is COVID here to stay?

While we don't know how successful we are at controlling COVID-19 as a pandemic, we know that certain infectious diseases like the Flu and Cold tend to be seasonal and return every year. Depending on how the virus mutates and if the vaccine protects against new strains (which we already see in the U.K.), future COVID-19 infections could be prevented and treated similarly to the Flu.

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