Coronavirus

The Best Forecast of COVID-19's Impact Suggests Post-Pandemic Normality Is in Sight for Americans

Daily U.S. COVID-19 deaths are approaching the influenza average.

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Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracking data reports that, as of today, more than 600,000 Americans have died of coronavirus infections since the pandemic began here in February 2020. With infection and death rates in decline here in the U.S., it's worth revisiting which projections proved useful for anticipating the impact of the disease, and where we might be headed from here.

Back on March 30, 2020, the White House coronavirus task force estimated that U.S. COVID-19 deaths could be as high 100,000 to 240,000. By March 30, just over 4,000 Americans had succumbed to the virus. During his press briefing, former President Trump declared, "If we could hold that down, as we're saying, to 100,000, that's a horrible number, maybe even less, but to 100,000—so we have between 100- and 200,000—we altogether have done a very good job."

As it happens, it took until the end of May for the coronavirus death toll in the U.S. to reach 100,000 and until the beginning of November to rise beyond 240,000 deaths. The pandemic accelerated in December and January, doubling the number of COVID-19 deaths to 480,000 just after the beginning of February 2021. In contrast, the highest recent estimate for annual influenza deaths was 79,400 during the particularly bad 2017-2018 season.

Although he has suspended his efforts, data scientist Youyang Gu has one of the better, if not the best record, for tracking the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. For example, Gu projected back on May 1, 2020, that U.S. COVID-19 deaths would rise to around 170,00 by August 1; the actual number was about 160,000. Similarly, he projected 230,000 deaths by November 1; the actual number was around 239,000 on that date.

Gu later turned his attention to what he called the path to normality, that is, how the evolution of vaccination and infection rates would affect the course of the pandemic in 2021. His model projected in March 2021 that daily new (both detected and undetected) infections would have dropped to 16,000 on June 15, 2021. Keeping in mind that Gu assumes that only about half of COVID-19 cases will be detected, Johns Hopkins is reporting just over 11,000 cases for yesterday.

Gu also projected that 177 million Americans (53 percent) would have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by June 15. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports just under 175 million (52.6 percent) have received one dose and that nearly 146 million people are fully vaccinated.

Given Gu's track record, what do his projections suggest for how the pandemic will evolve over the coming months? New COVID-19 infections will decline and then plateau at about 4,000 per day in August and September before rising again as winter comes on. If Gu is correct, the daily rate of detected infections should fall to around 2,000 per day this summer.

So where are we on the path to normality? One way to think about that is to consider the number of daily deaths from COVID-19 that Americans are willing to accept. The annual deaths from one of our worst past flu seasons is perhaps a good benchmark. So taking the death toll of 79,400 Americans for the 2017-2018 season yields a daily death rate of 217 over the course of a year. (Calculating the toll over an 18-week flu season from mid-November to the end of March would yield a rate of around 630 per day.)

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have averaged nearly 1,300 per day. (The COVID-19 death rate during the winter surge from mid-November to the end of March averaged just under 2,500 per day.) According to Johns Hopkins' data, 339 Americans died of COVID-19 yesterday.

In other words, barring an outbreak of a new highly transmissible and vaccine-resistant COVID-19 virus variant, normality is well in sight if not already here.

NEXT: Retired Engineer Offers Free Expert Testimony for Flood Victims. Licensing Officials Threaten Him With Criminal Charges.

Coronavirus Epidemics Epidemiology Vaccines Death United States

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53 responses to “The Best Forecast of COVID-19's Impact Suggests Post-Pandemic Normality Is in Sight for Americans

  1. Data scientist Youyang Gu is not familiar with the phrase “moving the goalposts” if he thinks we are anywhere near the point where “post-pandemic normality is in sight”. The light at the end of that particular tunnel is a flashlight, a mirror, and a giggling gang of thieves and murderers. We are never returning to normal.

    1. “Return to Normalcy” = conditions exist where we don’t need to take extraordinary action to protect hospital systems. He doesn’t make (and can’t make) any comment in a professional capacity about the political will to implement said return.

      My favorite part of his page:

      Public health messaging should be clear and consistent
      As the below example shows, this has not always been the case:

      When can we return to normal?
      Period | Gou | Fauci
      Dec 2020 | Summer 2021 | End of 2021(12/10); Mid-Fall 2021(12/16); Summer 2021 (12/23)
      Jan 2021 | Summer 2021 | Fall 2021
      Feb 2021 | Summer 2021 | 2022 (2/16); Xmas (2/18); End of 2021 (12/22)
      Mar 2021 | Summer 2021 | Autumn 2021 (3/4); Sep 2021 (3/10); July 4th (3/15)

      We define “normality” as the removal of all restrictions for the majority of US states.

      1. We define “normality” as the removal of all restrictions for the majority of US states.

        What about social media banning the discussion of Ivermectin as a therapy?

        1. A scandal of epic proportions. The lives lost as a result of the “vaccine-only” push are a damning indictment of Big Everything. Doctors who bothered to honor the Hippocratic oath and _do something_ instead of adhering to “official” guidance to _do nothing_ are truly saviors of mankind. Learn more here: https://noqreport.com/2021/06/16/covid-ivermectin-and-the-crime-of-the-century/

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  2. Fuck you, Bailey.

    https://twitter.com/MatthewBetley/status/1405215155596759047?s=19

    Say what? @JoeBiden just said that the rights we are born with as Americans don’t come from the government, but we yield them to the government. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t work for me.

    1. Wrong within normal parameters.

  3. Just a reminder that the author, Ronald Bailey, played an active role in the destruction of people’s lives, livelihoods, and deaths due to his lies about the pandemic and propaganda against effective treatments.
    Dude deserves to receive harsh justice.

  4. Been normal here for over a year now. It pays not live in scumbag cities or states like Cali and NY.

  5. The 600,000 figure is in doubt. Alameda County California, where Oakland is, reported that they have overstated deaths by about 30%. This is a very heavily Democrat county. In my own county the county hospital will continue to test a dead person until they get a positive result, then declare the cause of death to be COVID, even if the person was brought in from an automobile accident.

    1. Its probably worse than that

      The perversion of death certificate standards to treat all deaths with COVID as from COVID listed in the death count flies in the face of a decades old standard. With an average of around three comorbidities per COVID death, it is highly likely that heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, etc., actually killed most of them.
      Recent data about excess deaths for the past year (most likely caused by the lockdowns) suggest that we probably killed 2-3 times the number of people though panic than the disease did.

      1. Comorbidities doesn’t mean the cause of death wasn’t Covid. This is an elementary error. Just look at the all cause mortality for the past year and compare to previous years.

        1. Yes, excess mortality is the key to understanding the severity of the disease.

          When I saw the excess mortality numbers, it brought me back from total pandemic denial. The pandemic was real, and killed a lot more people who otherwise wouldn’t have died.

          That said, I still think the vast majority of lockdowns and other authoritarian bullshit thrust upon us was evil and ineffective.

          1. The pandemic was real, and killed a lot more people who otherwise wouldn’t have died.

            True, but looking at the comorbidity data and the average age of the COVID deaths reveals that the QALY lost has been surprisingly low.

            And even if it weren’t, the excess death metric is a bit silly. The total mortality for 2020 expressed as deaths per 100k was about the same as 2003. Not exactly the dark ages…

            1. Yes true, but the death rate given trends is supposed to be lower than 2003.

              It’s a good point about QALY lost. Even deaths are higher over the last 18 months than statistically expected, many of them likely would have died next year, say. So, it will be interesting if the excess death metric will be negative in the near future.

              1. It’s supposed to say “even IF deaths are higher”. Edit button!

          2. Indeed I agree lockdowns haven’t worked. What did help in pretty sure was the voluntary changes in behavior people made.

          3. How many people died in 2020 total?

  6. NORMAL IS ZERO INFECTIONS. GIVE ME MASKS OR GIVE ME DEATH.

    1. Why choose? I say you can have both!

      I have an idea. Every minute, you put on a new mask over top of the old one, and we see how many masks it takes for you to suffocate.

      GIVE YOU MASKS AND GIVE YOU DEATH.

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  8. COVID-19 was spreading in the US by December 2019, mounting evidence suggests
    https://www.msn.com/en-gb/health/medical/covid-19-was-spreading-in-the-us-by-december-2019-mounting-evidence-suggests/ar-AAL58cD

    The researchers identified seven participants from five states (Illinois, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Mississippi) who tested positive for antibodies against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, prior to the first reported cases of COVID-19 in those states. The earliest detection came from a sample collected Jan. 7 in Illinois. Because it takes about two weeks for a person to develop these antibodies, the new findings suggest the virus may have been circulating in Illinois as early as Dec. 24, 2019, according to the study, published Tuesday (June 15) in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

    “This study allows us to uncover more information about the beginning of the U.S. epidemic” of COVID-19, Dr. Josh Denny, CEO of All of Us and co-author of the study, said in a statement.

    1. 2.1% of bloodwork donated mid-December had antibodies in Washington/Oregon. Four months before we did anything to slow to the curve at all, and we STILL have two weeks of restrictions.

      https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/72/12/e1004/6012472

  9. some of us never thought it was more than a cold/flu anyway.

    1. Then some of you are stupid

  10. https://twitter.com/Breaking911/status/1402708260344500226

    CDC to no longer count cases of COVID-19 in those who are fully vaccinated unless they become hospitalized or die

    1. Cases was a dumb metric for everyone except professional epidemiologists. Stats without context published to fuel panic and hysteria.

  11. Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracking data reports that, as of today, more than 600,000 Americans have died of coronavirus infections since the pandemic began here in February 2020.

    According to the linked website, China has only suffered 103,424 infections with 4,846 deaths.

    1. That tells you all you need to know about the reliability of these numbers. A country with ~1.3-1.4 billion people and high population density only had ~5k deaths? Who believes such nonsense?

      1. “Who believes such nonsense?”

        The list is depressingly long.

  12. So taking the death toll of 79,400 Americans for the 2017-2018 season yields a daily death rate of 217 over the course of a year.

    What is the delta between the methodology of tracking and classifying ‘standard’ flu deaths vs COVID deaths?

    1. Using personal anecdotal evidence: Over the course of the previous year I received multiple COVID screening tests, and hundreds of informal screening tests which checked for elevated temperature or other questionnaires. In the entirety of my life prior to 2020/2021, I have never once been tested or screened for The Flu.

      1. I think most people have never been tested for flu. It could be that I’ve never had the flu. It could catch it every year. Who knows?

      2. I literally think the CDC pulls the flu numbers out of their ass every year.

        1. Well, they probably do, but using normally accepted epidemiological methods. But because we’re in a pandemic, whoa… throw those out the window, now we want to see every case, every record, every positive test, every recorded death, 100%, no exceptions.

          That’s why the got caught up in the “death with covid” vs “death by covid” controversy.

          Most state health departments were reporting “death with covid” and thus have overstated the numbers. Once you cull the obvious “he died from a fall off a ladder”, then you’re left with “well, he caught covid, and yes he died and was really sick, but he had been given three weeks by his oncologist six weeks ago…” problem. Sure, COVID may have tipped him over the edge, but come on!

          When most people think of COVID deaths, they think of a relatively healthy person with either no or well-managed co-morbidities catching COVID and succumbing to respiratory failure a couple of weeks later. I don’t believe there were 600,000 of those in the united states.

          1. Exactly

          2. When most people think of COVID deaths, they think of a relatively healthy person with either no or well-managed co-morbidities catching COVID and succumbing to respiratory failure a couple of weeks later. I don’t believe there were 600,000 of those in the united states.

            Certainly not, but whenever it happened Gov. Murphy would be sure to flash the man’s face (it was always a man; stupid patriarchy) up on screen as a warning to all those young covidiot tuff gais that figured they would be one of the 99.99% that recovered.

            That being said, based on patient-level data I’ve seen ~85% of COVID-positive deaths at my employer’s hospitals were due to COVID itself, as commonly understood in the industry for any other type of illness. To your point though, most of those were in poor health to begin with and couldn’t really afford the shove that the virus provided. Especially our nursing home set, some 2/3 of which had either a DNR or a DNH order.

            Sure, COVID may have tipped him over the edge, but come on!

            I mean, this is the case with flu deaths as well. Old and sickly people die, and pneumonias are often what does it.

            The place that we are now policywise is where we should have been 18 months ago: extraordinary surveillance and infection control protocol in institutional care settings while the rest of us get along with our daily lives. Perhaps pairing this with some carrots dangled to allow people to shelter-in-place of their own volition if they felt the need, or even to encourage a switch to remote/hybrid work as a preventative measure.

          3. “When most people think of COVID deaths, they think of a relatively healthy person with either no or well-managed co-morbidities catching COVID and succumbing to respiratory failure a couple of weeks later. I don’t believe there were 600,000 of those in the united states.”

            Well-spake.

        2. By the way, the Spanish Flu killed an estimated 675,000 people in the United States. Are we really taking the position that this disease was ultimately as bad as or (by the time it peters out) WORSE than the Spanish Flu epidemic?

          And yes, I understand that 1918 US population vs 2020 population makes for a different death rate etc. But it’s incumbent upon the people making these claims to prove that 600,000 Americans who died with COVID would otherwise be alive and well sans COVID.

          1. Critical care medicine, advanced life support, advances in diagnostics, might have had something to do with it.

            Not disagreeing with you. Such comparisons are nonsense.

            At this point the vaccines are very powerful effective tools. They are widely available to anyone who chooses to get one.

            1. Obsession with advocating dependence on vaccinations is weak and neurotic.
              And more than a little collectivist.

      3. Well you can look at all cause mortality to get a picture of Covids effect. That is what convinced me it was real and the deniers were full of it.

        1. How many people died in 2020 total?

  13. it’s worth revisiting which projections proved useful for anticipating the impact of the disease

    Why? To see which dart thrower happened to get lucky? Looking for ways to forecast that which cannot be known is worse than a waste of time.

    It’s over. 100% over. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. have declined to beginning-of-outbreak numbers and dropping fast. The only people showing up at the hospital with Covid these days are the unvaccinated. Death rates are almost down to the same numbers we daily to car accidents. We are done. DONE.

    You’re not seeing it in the media of course, but GLOBAL rates are dropping like a rock as well. India is way past peak.

    Anyone outside the medical community giving even passing thought to Covid right now (aside from the unvaccinated stopping by Walgreens for a shot) is fighting the last war.

    Move on.

    1. Usually if a dart thrower hits a bulls eye every time I consider him a skilled dart thrower and not just lucky. I’ll certainly take Gu’s projections over the fools last summer saying it was already over since we had already reached herd immunity.

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  15. Y’all are talking about a lot of suspect stats like number of cases and number of deaths and others that are subject to manipulation and uncertainty. Many of them make no sense at all unless they are per-capita or adjusted for other factors. And you’re right, the use of those stats by alarmist assholes caused unnecessary panic amongst the gullible.

    However, there is one neutral and objective stat upon which we can hang our hats: excess mortality. It was this stat that brought me down from total pandemic denialism. The numbers clearly show that covid19 killed many people who otherwise wouldn’t have died.

    1. So tell us the number of total deaths in the US in 2020.
      Raw number, none of this modeled bullshit.

      1. The excess deaths metric is not modeled. It’s a combination of a hard measurement and statistical analysis that is reliable and not controversial.

        That said, I googled and found this number from the CDC: 3,358,814.

        1. I need to correct myself. I guess the stats part of this should be considered model, because it predicts a number based on real historical data plus estimates of how things are changing over time. And, I only know a miniscule part of the actual technical implementation of it.

  16. Is still valid i dont think so because of the latest trends

  17. well explained. thanks for the news

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