VIRUS FORECAST MODEL FROM US DEFENSE TEAM DRAWS ATTENTION

AppleMagazine|April 24, 2020

VIRUS FORECAST MODEL FROM US DEFENSE TEAM DRAWS ATTENTION
A team of national defense scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory that studies contagions with award-winning accuracy has developed its own U.S. forecast for the spread of the coronavirus.


It’s one model that states are utilizing as they consider the duration of directives on social distancing and restrictions on business and President Trump steps up pressure to follow his road map to gradually reopening a crippled economy.

With support from the U.S. Energy Department, the Los Alamos model builds upon a decade of past experience in forecasting contagions, including the seasonal flu, the Ebola virus and mosquito-borne Chikungunya.

Last year Los Alamos statisticians beat out more than 20 teams in a CDC competition aimed at improving flu forecasting using supercomputing power. The lab’s “Dante” model was most successful in predicting the peak and short-term intensity of the unfolding flu season — and became the basis for the new COVID-19 model.

That model shows the likelihood that a state has hit its daily infections peak and maybe on a downward slope. It also offers hurricane-style probability forecasts for infections and deaths in each state in the coming week, as well as a longer six-week period.

For the state of New York, the most recent forecast late last week showed a 60% chance that infections already have peaked and may be waning.

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April 24, 2020