A Projection of the Epidemic’s Trajectory

By April 17, 2020 Commentary

People are trying to predict the future course of the epidemic to help guide policymakers, who seem to need a lot of guidance.   (Science Article)   These researchers used estimates of seasonality, immunity and cross-reactivity to other coronaviruses to estimate that course.  They made assumptions about the severity of the virus and the type of antibody response it might provoke.  They attempted to estimate rates of severe illness and deaths from the data available in late March, which is very likely too high.  They focus on whether predicted levels of disease might result in the dreaded, and largely discredited, “overwhelm the health system”.  Guess what they did next–they built a model!!   They listed several possible outcomes depending on seasonality and immunity durability.  They project that in many scenarios the health system would be overwhelmed and therefore suggest there will be a need to adopt stricter social distancing measures for a long time.  They note the burden this would impose on economies and social lives.  It is good that researchers are trying to get people focused on the long-lasting nature of the virus.  But they need to stop copping out on estimating what will happen to people’s quality of life if these lockdowns go on for any longer.

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