FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) -- Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen models predicting a wide range of numbers of total cases or deaths. This is causing some confusion for some when they look at the projections.
They see data and say "okay, our peak will come in early May.”
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It’s much more complex and without an explanation, the message can be missed says Dr. Elliott Blumenthal, the Chair of the Biology Department at Purdue University Fort Wayne, who specializes in Immunology.
"Well a model is simply that, it’s a model. Until you get into the real-life situation, you don’t know how it’s truly going to spread through the population."
What he means is that models are just a representation of what MIGHT happen. It’s the modelers' best guess, but not 100% what is going to happen.
Different COVID-19 models consider different things.
They can include a maximum cumulative death rate, location-specific growth parameters, and the deadliness of the virus.
However, there’s something that’s harder to predict. The human element.
Humans move around all the time, make rash decisions like going to the grocery store every day to get more and more toilet paper.
The more people who are out during the peak, the more the models might look like they have underestimated the situation because cases happened so quickly.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb said today the efforts Hoosiers are taking are allowing them to reconsider the future.
"Everything that you’ve been doing to flatten the curve, to slow the spread, that’s why we find ourselves in a position to make some new decisions about how we go forward," Holcomb said.
Blumenthal says that’s partly why the models over predicted in the beginning, because of the stay at home order.
Blumenthal explained, "Because we did take those precautions based on the models, the numbers of infections, the numbers of deaths were lower than what the models initially predicted."
So, if you’re second-guessing the severity of COVID-19 based on what the models said in the beginning, it’s likely because social distancing and the stay at home order worked.
CHECK IT OUT: COVID-19 forecasting from the CDC