COVID-19 Modeling | One Year Later: Questions Remain

Published March 26, 2021

Chris Murray addresses how much there is still yet to learn about COVID-19.

Transcription: I think the most important thing we’ve learned is the critical importance of thinking about who the users are of our forecasts, because we're trying to help people make hard choices and that’s both hospital systems, which is what we started with, in terms of planning but also policymakers, who we now interact with extensively, who are looking farther ahead, several months or even longer, and wanting to figure out what are the main strategies they need to pursue. Is it social distancing mandates? Is it scaling up vaccination faster? What are the types of strategies they should use around travel? Many, many questions that come up in the course of modeling. I think we have learnt that it’s super important to listen to the people we’re trying to help, and building in the sort of things they want to hear and understand, into how we go about modeling.

Last but certainly not least is the recognition that we still have many, many questions about COVID that we just don't understand. Why has the epidemic not been larger in south Asia or sub-Saharan Africa so far? Why has there been a very small epidemic in Uruguay, when Argentina and southern Brazil have had large epidemics? You could make a very long list of these COVID mysteries. And the fact there are so many should make us humble about thinking that we really fully understand the epidemic. And it's also why we think it's so important to keep abreast of what's happening, and keep revising what we do, and update the models both with data and improvements on the models, on a weekly basis.