Rosy Scenarios

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March 31, 2020 1:51 p.m.

Yesterday I shared with you that modeling site from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which is based at the University of Washington School of Medicine. This is the one that models the course and intensity of the COVID-19 pandemic both nationwide and in individual states. It’s clearly getting a lot of attention. Apparently it’s now being cited by the White House and just moments ago I was watching a CNN interview with Dr. Chris Murray, one of the researchers behind the modeling.

I wanted to follow up on that with a link to a twitter thread from Carl Bergstrom, a professor at the University of Washington whose work is at the intersection of biology and mathematical models and computer simulations. (He’s on my Twitter list of experts discussing the COVID-19 Crisis.) You can see his critique here. But the gist is that he has questions both about the methodology of the modeling (beyond my expertise) and also the assumptions that go into it. On the latter front he notes that the assumptions are actually quite optimistic, especially assuming social distancing at Wuhan-like levels of success if not implemented with the same severity.

If you’re interested in his argument read his own words. If you’re not up for that simply note that other very knowledgable people are skeptical of these projections, seeing them as discounting significantly worse scenarios which are possible and perhaps probable.

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