From the math people @ FiveThirtyEight….
One of the most pernicious parts of the COVID-19 crisis is how uncertain everything is. Researchers and officials cite statistical models that estimate infection rates, death counts and when things will go back to normal, but those estimates are changing rapidly. And as the forecasts bounce around, so do the rest of us living through the crisis — how can one feel settled when the future feels so volatile?
Still, there’s a way to at least get a sense for what the experts are thinking. For the past five weeks, infectious disease researchers from institutions around the United States have been taking a survey that gathers their thoughts on the trajectory of the COVID-19 virus. The researchers come from academia, government and industry, and are experts in modeling the spread of viruses like this one. The survey asks about things like how many people will eventually get COVID-19 and how many Americans will die.
The top-line numbers are sobering. The most recent survey, taken on March 16 and 17, found that, as a group, the experts think that as March 15, only 12 percent of infections in the U.S. had been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They think there’s a 73 percent chance of a second wave of hospitalizations this fall. And they expect approximately 200,000 deaths in the U.S. by the end of the year.
But averages can only tell you so much. When forecasting the future, it also matters what a person (or model) thinks the range of possibilities could be — how uncertain the forecast is, in other words. In this survey, the experts gave three answers to most questions, representing the most likely future scenario, and the best-case and worst-case scenarios.
Collecting responses in this form captures both the best-guess estimate from each respondent and the uncertainty surrounding it. It also lets the people in charge of the survey — Thomas McAndrew and Nicholas Reich, both biostatisticians at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst — convert the responses to a probabilistic consensus forecast,1 something that can answer questions like, “According to these researchers, what is the probability that we will have 50,000 reported cases by March 29?”
Expert consensus forecasts give you what a model does — a forecast that gives a measure of its uncertainty — without being overly reliant on just one way of thinking about a problem. In this instance, each expert has their own assumptions about how likely the virus is to spread or to be fatal, as well as assumptions about the ways humans might try to mitigate its damage…
The researchers plan to continue conducting these weekly surveys. As some elements of the pandemic become clearer — such as the virus’s incubation period and fatality rate, and how far the U.S. is willing to go to slow the spread of the virus — these ranges will presumably narrow.
But for now, there’s a lot the experts still aren’t certain of. Just like the rest of us….
Dr. Fauci now wants a bit more ‘social distancing’….
Some Governor’s have heeded his request….
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday that Americans will most likely have to continue staying at home and practicing social distancing for “at least several weeks” amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“If you look at the trajectory of the curves of outbreaks and other areas, at least going to be several weeks,” Fauci said in an interview with Savannah Guthrie on the “TODAY” show.
“I cannot see that all of a sudden, next week or two weeks from now it’s going to be over. I don’t think there’s a chance of that. I think it’s going to be several weeks.”
Buried in this piece is the consensus that there will be a second increased run of caronavirus infections come the fall around election time….
I’m willing to bet that Trump WILL do enough arm twisting to have a vaccine available then or shortly afterwards…