Predict the number dead from COVID-19 in America by end of 2020

I don’t think this forum allows polls but please choose between:

[li]Less than 50K[/li][li]50 to 100K[/li][li]100 to 200K[/li][li]200 to 300K[/li][li]300 to 500K[/li][li]500K to 1M[/li][li]Over 1 M[/li][/ol]

I’m going with option 2, 50 to 100K myself, and suspect upper middle of the range. That is BAD, and unless we can flatten the curve to the degree that it backfills in the low influenza rate summer months risks overwhelming local healthcare systems as it rolls from local surge to local surge. Spread out over five to six months, with most focus on protecting the most vulnerable, and it can be handled. Allowed to peak all in a month period in each locale and it will continue to be the stuff of horror movies.

I’ve come to the number through several ways but looking at the curves here, specifically the “COVID-19 Cases by Country, normalized by country population: deaths” (log version) it looks like it may level off around 200 to 250/million population is the course for Spain and Italy. U.S. population 330 million, skewed younger than Italy, comes to 66 to 82.5K.

Note this guess implies that NYC will top off at a bit over 2000 deaths, unless more die as a result of overwhelmed systems, roughly three times the deaths recorded there to dates.

Please note that a poll of ID experts reported on in the 538 blog has a predictions ranging “from 4,000 all the way to 1 million” with a “consensus” (?median?) of 200K. I wonder if our crowdsource will come up with a similar range. I suspect this crowd will skew to the higher numbers.

I think by the end of the week the US will be experiencing well over 1,000 deaths per day.

It is interesting to note that the top end estimate by all but 3 experts in the 538 poll woefully underestimate the cases at 30 March which will number over 150,000. Unfortunately I think 6 or 7 are on the cards.

Upper edge of one or just into two. 45-55k. Optimistic that one of the antiviral treatments pan out and get widely dispensed yet later this spring.
If not then I’m glad I don’t live in or near a very large city or the vacation area of those that do.

Unfortunately I’m going with 6, 500k to 1M, though frankly I think there is a reasonable possibility of hitting 4M. I think there is no competent coordinated leadership taking charge. Even when state or local leadership is competent, it’s not going to matter too much, because of the disarray at the national level. I think that when hospitals saturate with patients, and the staff are knocked out with COVID-19, that those who might survive with medical care will instead die without. That will skyrocket the death rate.

Vulnerable populations will be hit the hardest, but it will cut across all groups. Those stories I’m reading about the otherwise healthy 30-40 years olds who spent a few days in the hospital and are now recovering, will be stories about how they died waiting for help.

At this point I think all that is go to prevent high-6 to 7 digit deaths is a third act savior. 15 minute test kits being produced at 5k+/day, and distributed; an effective treatment with drugs already approved for human use, and that can be produced and distributed; a competent national COVID Council and Czar being created, with the authority to effectively coordinate things on a national level; a miracle vaccine, etc.

Of those, the test kits are the most likely, but the results still need to be effectively used to make any difference.

Please convince me I’m wrong.

OPs article also mentions that when the poll was taken, they currently had 3500 diagnosed cases (so around march 15th). Then they asked pandemic specialists how many cases on March 29th (ie today).

All but 3 experts predicted under 50,000, some well under 50,000. Only 3 predicted more than 100k as even being a possibliity, and nobody predicted 100k as the ‘best estimate’ (one had about 70k as his best estimate, everyone else was <50k by March 29th).

As of the 28th, we were at 113,000 cases, and I’m guessing we will be at 120-130k when official numbers come out for the 29th. So every one of the experts vastly underestimated how many cases we’d have within 2 weeks of being polled.

Which makes me wonder if most of the experts are underpredicting in other areas. Because when it comes to deaths, they predict 250k deaths in 2020 as the highest probability.

But again, these same experts predicted 10-20k cases by March 29th as the highest probability.

Case rate and death rate, at least since March 15th, has been growing about ~30% a day, so doubling every 3 days.

I’m starting to fear 1-2 million deaths by the end of the year, assuming we can’t maintian quarantine due to noncompliance and peoples fears for their economic safety. That number assumes we have no working drug therapy to take the edge off in severe patients, quarantine is ignored or only lightly enforced, hospitals are overrun, etc.

I keep lists of mass killings. I keep a list of the daily body count from this virus. I play the dead pool each year.
Count me out of this. It is distasteful.

Hasn’t testing capacity increased dramatically since the 15th? If so, an increase in the number of cases isn’t due to more cases, just the number of cases we know about.

In other words, experts being wrong about how many cases there would be on the 29th is not an indication they are wrong about the total number of deaths this will result in. The additional number of cases could easily be driven by testing capability and not because there are actually that many more cases.

CMC fnord!

What exactly is the point of this morbid exercise? Are we going to start a betting pool on how many people, innocent of any wrongdoing other than living their lives, succumb to a virulent pandemic that they were not given good guidance or even marginally competent leadership to avert?


I believe trying to get a sense of what we are in for is actually pretty important for society, for economics, for social psychology.

I don’t know whether to say 5 or 6, because I think it will be right around a half million.

Quick extrapolation, if we take Italy for example, which is probably close the the peak right around now, I’d say about 5.5 * (10000 + 10000 to 20000) = 110000 to 175000. But still, not enough constants and to many variables to even educationally guess let alone predict anything right now. Just one very crude speculation of many.

You all are using base numbers that have no basis in reality. Until you can AT MINIMUM test a representative sample can you make predictions about the future.

For example there appears to be a large segment of asymptomatic carriers. Are these people truly asymptomatic or people that just have mild cases, so mild they go unnoticed?

You also need to take account in quality of healthcare. A recent survey in Chicago showed dramatic difference in the recovery of heart patients, simply based on income level. (They could afford better treatment options, and hospitals).

Having a world class hospital is going to go more to helping than several marginal hospitals.

Far to many variances to make any serious prediction

What is the formula being used to extrapolate? Is it simple math with no restraints and no expectation of flattening the curve?

I hesitate to project. Recent news on the treatment front is that the virus is slow to mutate. This means we could be lucky and get a vaccine.

It also means that if the numbers are higher than we think, there are just lots of asymptomatic people, this means that by the end of the year, there could be lots of immune people.

If the virus is slow to mutate, and we get lots of immune people walking around, who had it without symptoms, we might get herd immunity.

Or we might be fucked.

Just sayin’

Here’s what I gather are the best guesses so far and why this is likely a very difficult prediction to make. Mortality seems to be around 1% in areas with good medical care where the system does not get overwhelmed. In areas where the number of patients overwhelms the local medical system it seems to be closer to 5-10%. The problem with making further predictions is that this misses an essential part of the question, that being how many people will become infected? That is a much more difficult question to answer and sadly to a large extent it will depend on the leadership of Trump. From what we’ve seen so far, Trump’s actions are harder to predict. My best guess is that the numbers will likely end up in the hundreds of thousands but I admit to being very uncertain about that.

I think less than 50K.

There are still counties in PA that have no cases of the virus.

I live near the NJ / PA border. I was glad to see the government shut down the large number of commuter buses running from PA to NYC – however, yesterday there were over 600 cars parked just inside the NJ border in a new bus parking lot. All of those people are driving directly from NYC to eastern PA. I would really personally and selfishly like to see that traffic stopped, and fear that that traffic alone might push things above 50K by continuing the spread.

No known cases of the virus – big difference.

Possibly, but if you check the chart both the rate of confirmed infections and the death rate has steadily been increasing at about 20-40% a day for the last 2 weeks.

If it were just the number of diagnosed cases going up, wouldn’t the death rate be increasing more slowly?

On 3-28 for example the number of cases grew by 20% while the number of deaths grew by 28%.

Also my understanding is the death rate is actually higher. I forget which article I read it in, but supposedly many deaths aren’t being properly reported, plus as the virus overwhelms hospitals there will also be deaths due to strokes, heart attacks, accidents, women in labor, etc who can’t get proper medical care.

To those who find this exercise distasteful (yet hang on the daily tracker numbers slavishly, and often throw around about how there will be millions dead), well, don’t participate. To me having a sense of how bad this is going to end up being by this metric is very important. And appreciating the lack of key information to the degree that the most expert minds are coming up with predictions of such wide ranges is also important to highlight.

RivkahChaya, we could get a vaccine, but not likely one that will available before the end of 2020. 12 months is optimistic, 18 months more realistic.

Addressing Carryon and Musicat’s comments.

My stab at it was not using a formula at all, but looking at the log scale deaths/million “growth charts” on the linked cite. There is a common shape to those growth charts (reflective of both natural history of the disease in the populations and of the timing of the Western world’s publics’ and governments’ responses to it). The curves originate at 1 death/million population and all of Italy, Spain, and France, are farther along on the curve from that point than we are. They all show the log curve beginning to get less steep around day 10 to 15 days into the curve. Projecting the Italy and Spain curves (farthest along of the bigger number counties) current trajectories have them both likely becoming flat at around 250 deaths/million.

I think that just as it reasonable to use previous children’s growth to predict the adult height of a 2 year old, it is reasonable for us at day six from hitting that mark to use the growth trajectory of those ahead of us to make an estimate of what we will see. Yes it will not be exact just as few children follow the standard curves exactly (impacted by demographics and responses/capacity specific to each nation), but a good rough stab. (250 deaths/million) * (population of the United States) 330 million = 82,500. Those who predict many more times than that are predicting that we will have that many more times the deaths per million population than Italy, France, or Spain look to be on course to have.

Now it could be that my extrapolation of those curves is faulty, and that they do not continue to flatten any more than they have but stay at this lower rate for months, more gradually but consistently increasing over months, or even jumping up as restrictions are lifted. We do not know for sure that Italy’s deaths/million are actually closing in on adult height.

But yes using the SIR type of model is fraught right now as it is so dependent on what is input into it as assumptions. My prediction based on those growth curves is consistent with what I calculate using assumptions of 1% fatality rate among those symptomatic enough to be labelled as having COVID-19, 8 to 9 others who get infected with SARS-CoV-2 but remain either asymptomatic or so mildly symptomatic as to never be labelled as having COVID-19, children mostly non-contagious, and herd immunity beginning to play a factor at an infection rate of 40% with bigger impact at 50%. How valid or invalid are those assumptions? They are not crazy ones but …? The fact that we don’t have some better harder basis for which assumptions are most valid is hard to excuse. Given that lack I’m thinking the growth chart analogy approach is the best roadmap approach for now. IMHO.

I’m having trouble finding it, but isn’t the peak supposed to hit in April or may? Assuming we do nothing, I thought (in the US at least) around May we will hit the peak when there are roughly half a million new cases every day. If italy is a couple weeks ahead of us, that would mean their peak is a couple weeks before that.

However I have no idea how effective the lockdowns and quarantines are at slowing the spread. Over here where I live, people don’t seem to be taking it too seriously.