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Dean Ron Brookmeyer: "Predictions about where the coronavirus pandemic is going vary widely. Can models be trusted?"

The Los Angeles Times published an op-ed by UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Dean Ron Brookmeyer explaining different types of prediction models used in public health forecasting, including the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Written by: Dean Ron Brookmeyer


"Much of the news about COVID-19 includes projections about where the coronavirus pandemic may be going. Many of these predictions are at great odds with each other, likely causing many to ask: How do prediction models work and can they be trusted?

Recently, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projected that COVID-19 deaths in the United States would drop to near zero by June. Last week, a group from Harvard University put forth a model suggesting a far different scenario: Absent a vaccine, COVID-19 will be with us for at least several more years.

Such disparity occurs because different types of models are used. Those who analyze the COVID-19 pandemic generally use either transmission models or curve-fitting models.