Except for timing, the new IHME forecast isn’t as shocking as it seems…

In mid-April, we pointed out the obvious: the operative projection at the time (60,000 deaths by Aug. 4)  — which was modeled by IHME, touted by Pres. Trump, and head-nodded by Drs. Fauci & Birx — was arithmetically unlikely.

Our simple logic: At the time, the US had already had about 40,000 deaths and was running at a rate of about 2,000 new deaths each day. To stay under 60,000, the average daily death rate would need to drop to 200. That didn’t seem likely.

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And, we pointed out that IHME routinely reported a wide confidence interval (aka. zone of uncertainty) that ranged up to 140,000.

The new 134.475 projection falls within that confidence level.

Add to the mix some data mumbo-jumbo: There have been some definitional and procedural changes that have boosted the reported number of deaths.

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The death-counting rules, from the get-go, were very liberal — counting as a C-19 death any confirmed case that “died with C-19” … which is more encompassing than“died from C-19”.

Then the “confirmed case” criteria was loosened … and deaths simply “presumed” to have C-19 were added to the count.

And, to further confound the numbers, incentives were put in play that tend to motivate more liberal death counting.

For example, Medicare reimbursement rates were set much higher for patients “presumed” to have C-19 than similarly symptomatic patients who were treated similarly but coded as having the flu.

OK, so where are we now?

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The recent trend has been relatively favorable … looks like we may be on the backside of the curve.

So, why did IHME nearly double its projection now?

The IHME changed its model to to more fully capture the dynamics of the coronavirus spread.

But, reduced to its essence, it’s simple arithmetic.

The revised forecast implies that new deaths average ~ 650 per day from now until Aug. 4.

Even that is optimistic since our 7-day moving average is 1,875 and our 3-day moving average is 1,381.

Hopefully, that steep green arrow above is the track that we’ll be on, and we’ll come in under the IHME projection.

But, I’m betting the over.

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