Hawaii research group that tracked pandemic’s valleys and peaks ceases operations

HIPAM co-chair Thomas Lee says the organization is not ruling out a return in the future.
Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 4:31 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 6, 2022 at 6:53 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The team that has kept a close eye on COVID infection rates throughout the state is shutting down operations.

The Hawaii Pandemic Applied Modeling Work Group issued its final report this week.

HIPAM, which is made up of researchers from the medical, scientific, and mathematics community, started when COVID arrived.

And for the last two and a half years, it’s been mapping out activity of infections, vaccinations, and variants.

Its work was partly funded by a number of groups, including the Department of Health and state Department of Defense, but it was largely volunteer driven.

HIPAM’s researchers say they are now closing due to lack of long-term funding.

They also said they want to refocus to in-depth projects.

“We really want to focus on doing the proper research,” said HIPAM mathematician Monique Chyba.

“A lot has been validated by invitation throughout the world. It’s been published, but I think that’s the right thing to do for us right now and we’ll always be available if suddenly there is a big surge, we’ll be ready because we are continuing the work.”

HIPAM co-chair Thomas Lee says the organization is not ruling out a return in the future if the pandemic continues to significantly impact the state, but he is grateful that it had the opportunity to serve the community.

“Before COVID, no one really thought that this type of collaboration could occur, but the biggest thing is we support our community and that’s what we sought out to do from the beginning,” Lee said.

In its final report, HIPAM mapped out several long-term scenarios, saying that the virus will continue to mutate over time and it’s likely boosters may become a regular shot similar to flu vaccines.

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