Covid-19 Forecasts, One Year Ago and Today

One year ago (7/29):

Figure 1: Weekly fatalities due to Covid-19 as reported to CDC for weeks ending on indicated dates (black), excess fatalities calculated as actual minus expected (teal), fatalities as tabulated by The Covid Tracking Project/Atlantic (dark red), IHME forecast (light red). Source: CDC 7/29/2020 vintage, Covid Tracking Project/Atlantic accessed 7/29/2020, IHME forecast of 7/22/2020, and author’s calculations.

And today (7/24):

Figure 2: Weekly fatalities due to Covid-19 as reported to CDC for weeks ending on indicated dates (black), excess fatalities calculated as actual minus expected (teal), fatalities as tabulated by Our World in Data (dark red), IHME forecast (bold pink). Light green shading denotes CDC data likely to be revised, as noted by CDC. Source: CDC accessed 7/24/2021, Our World in Data, accessed 7/24/2021, IHME forecasts of 7/22/2020, 7/23/2021, and author’s calculations.

IHME predicted excess fatalities pretty well (as opposed to CDC officially designated Covid-19 deaths, or those reported to Our World In Data). The current IHME reference scenario forecast implies about 60,000 additional fatalities by November 1st. This wave doesn’t seem so bad — until you think about the fact that this is occurring in the summer months, when people are less likely to be inside and in close contact.

For confidence bands for reference scenario, and “worse” scenario, as well as geographic distribution of fatalities, see this post from earlier today.

29 thoughts on “Covid-19 Forecasts, One Year Ago and Today

  1. Moses Herzog

    Completely off-topic
    I’m kinda worried about these recent stories about Russia being able to complete their Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany. Have we learned nothing from global supply chains during Covid-19???

    What happens the next time Russia misbehaves in a major fashion and then threatens to shut off Germany’s gas supply??? The EU caves on everything Russian related already. America can’t get natural gas supplies to Germany via F-16C. So they better get their sh*t together. This is another reason why I was pro-Brexit. Because then Britain/UK gets dragged along into the braindead sh*t like Nord Stream 2 the more they get tied up into it.

    And get ready for our resident “experts” to say “Brexit has nothing to do with Nord Stream 2” in 3…… 2…… 1…….

    1. Ulenspiegel

      “What happens the next time Russia misbehaves in a major fashion and then threatens to shut off Germany’s gas supply???”

      Now you show clear signs of a reality detachment syndrome (RDS). 🙂

      1) Russia has newer used NG as leverage against Germany. However, Ukraine and to a lesser extent Poland have.

      2) Even with the old pipelines the situation for Russia is the same in respect to Germany. Russia gains in respect to Ukraine, as no theft of NG is longer possible with NS2.

      3) The economics of NS2 are better for Germany and at the same time stupid games by Ukraine stops, Germany will deliver the NG to Poland and Ukraine, Russia gains because Germany has to enforce the contracts.

      3) It was a stupid move of the USA to oppose NS2, esp. in order to promote own NG exports.

      4) German NG imports will very likely not increase.

      5) Pipeline NG is “greener” than alternatives like LNG…

      1. Moses Herzog

        So, according to you

        1) Ukraine is the existential threat to Europe/Germany rather than Russia?? And Poland might invade Germany at any minute??

        2) Putin would “never” use energy supplies against Western powers and/or Europe because he’s just too kindhearted of a man to ever even conceive such an idea.

        3) If Germany consumed roughly 95 billion cubic meters of gas in 2019, and Russia can deliver 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas through Nord Stream 2 in a single year, the prospect of Germany receiving 58% (55/95) of its natural gas supplies from Russia over multiple years is “no threat” to German or European security??

        Two Questions for Ulenspiegel: How much of donald trump’s MAGA Bleach Soda Pop have you been drinking lately?? And is there kompromat video of you soiling a hotel mattress in Moscow that we should know about??

    2. Ivan

      The North Stream 2 issue has nothing to do with Germany’s gas supply and everything to do with Ukraine. That is why the competent Biden administration worked out a compromise that is about Ukraine and says nothing about German energy security. North Steam will not give Russia any substantial increase in sale of natural gas to EU it is just that more will be routed directly to Germany (so they will get it cheaper). The German supply will actually be more secure since it will not have to run through unstable countries like Ukraine.

      Russia tried using natural gas as leverage/blackmail before, and the result was that EU instituted reforms to make sure all of their countries had contingency plans against a total cut off from Russian NG (increased storage, import facilities, plans for quickly increased production/supply from the North Sea, etc.). So in the long run Russias shut down of the Ukraine NG line a decade ago, hurt Russia more than it hurt EU. Shoot yourself in the foot once, shame on you; shoot yourself in the same food a second time – even Putin is not that stupid.

      A total shutdown of NG from Russia has been “war gamed” many times. Both electricity and NG lines are criss-crossed all over EU so the loss would be distributed. NG is used for heat and for electricity and there are substantial storage to make a few month cut off in the middle of winter a “no big deal” event. In the long run Germans are tough people that can lower the thermostat to 60 in the winter; and dormant power plants can be activated or NG plants converted to use of other fossil fuel. Furthermore, Russias ties to Germany is a two way deal. The losses from lack of sales and retaliatory sanctions would actually ensure that Russia would be hurting more than Germany – both in the short and long run. So Russia cannot use North Stream 2 to increase pressure on Germany – and everybody outside of US know that (including Putin).

      Trump tried to use the issue to force Germany to purchase expensive American liquid NG. In other words force Germany to subsidize US fossil fuel companies and make German industries less competitive. Germany gave him a firm NO (as they should). Trump may have believed in his own BS about “German energy dependency” and “stupid Germans don’t know what is good for themselves”; but Angela Merkel is not some easily conned red neck moron, so she knew what was going on. Biden knew that the real issue is Ukraines security (including its energy security). So he negotiated a deal on the real problem and found a solution in collaboration with Merkel. Amazing what competent leaders can accomplish.

      1. pgl

        Thanks for clarifying this as that little debate between Ulenspiegel and Uncle Moses did become unhinged.

      2. Moses Herzog

        I’m curious why Democrat Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire has been against the Nord Stream 2 for years, beings that New Hampshire imports ALL of its natural gas from Canada and Maine (i.e.there zero NG resources inside New Hampshire)?? Senator Shaheen says it’s because the Nord Stream 2 extends Kremlin influence throughout Europe. I guess as a U.S. Senator, she’s unaware that yanking away 58% of Germany’s natural gas supplies at any moment has been “war gamed”.

        I for one am “relieved” now, and if pgl, lover of Andrew Cuomo, Steven “Women Bring Violence Upon Themselves” Smith, and avid reader of “Veterans Today” website (which screams all over their website they take no responsibility for the content, validity, or accuracy of comments on their site) says this is all cool, how could I dare argue??

        1. Ivan

          The “58% of German NG supply” is just ignorant BS and lots of Senators from both parties can fall for BS (sometimes because of political calculations, sometimes because you can’t fix stupid). Yes New Hampshire has the perfectly situated Atlantic sea-port for LNG exports to Germany.

          Since all of EU is interconnected with each other and with north sea gas supply, the real question is how much of the EU (not just German) supply is from Russia. Furthermore, the real issue is not total supply %, but minimum supply needed. If Germany can substitute NG for oil/coal and function perfectly well (at slightly higher prices) on just 40% of its current NG supply, then Russian NG supply is a paper bear. That is what “war games” is about. It is the top of American arrogance to postulate that Angela Merkel has seen the outcomes of those types of strategic analysis and made a decision that would increase German vulnerability to Putin to a level that cannot be handled.

          This whole thing was a master class in complex 4-way diplomacy.


          Russia (bad guy) wanted:
          Ability to punish Ukraine by cutting off NG supply.
          Ability to transfer/sell more NG to Europe

          Germany (good guy) wanted:
          Stability in its supply of Russian NG.
          Ability to obtain NG at a lower price to become more competitive

          Ukraine (good guy) wanted:
          Stability in its supply of Russian NG.
          National security because EU supply of NG runs through their country

          US (sort of good guy) wanted:
          Reduced dependency of EU on Russian NG
          Selling expensive LNG to Germany/EU.
          Protection of Ukraine.

          The original play gave Russia and Germany all they wanted (sort of) and left Ukraine and US holding the bag. Then US put pressure on Germany and eventually made a deal.

          Germany still gets all they wanted but at the price of paying some of what they gained back to Ukraine. Germany will get a more stable and cheaper NG supply from Russia (via a direct line with no security issues or royalties paid to other countries). However, Germany will have to guarantee that they will send Russian NG to Ukraine if the direct (Russia to Ukraine) line is shut down – and pay for helping Ukraine with NG alternatives.

          Russia will have much reduced ability to harass Ukraine because any increased Russian sales to Europe will depend on lines running through Ukraine, and a shut-down of supplies to Ukraine will be countered by a supply from Germany/EU.

          Ukraine will get help to develop alternatives to Russian NG and guarantees of German/EU supplies of NG if Russia close/reduce its supply (or demand above market prices).

          US will not get away with forcing Germany/EU to use expensive and uncompetitive LNG in order to speed up their reduction in dependency on Russian NG. However, their concerns about this deal making Ukraine more vulnerable has been substantially alleviated.

          This deal could not be cut by the orange disaster and his idiot “diplomats”, but the professionals in the Biden administration got it done in less than 6 months. Competence in governing matters. MACA.

          1. Moses Herzog

            @ Ivan
            Do you think that Senators who “fall for BS” (i.e. potentially 58% of German NG supply”) work at Brookings??— or read their news out of the Washington Post?? As opposed to, say, getting their info from sources such as “Veterans Today”, “TPM”, or “Quora”??

            Another question for our resident geopolitical genius here: Why would NG suppliers ship NG by way of a New Hampshire port, when they could ship it by a more direct route from the suppliers, via Canada, or USA’s Gulf States ??

            Ivan, you might be interested to know almost all the natural gas (or “LNG” if you prefer) that is shipped to Europe comes out of the Gulf States region (and associated ports), and, also, “shockingly” probably to both you and pgl the USA doesn’t ship much (zero??) natural gas (or LNG) out of New Hampshire ports.

            I supposed you and pgl view that as “pure craziness” or BS or something such?? See what “Veterans Today” website and “Quora” have to say about it, and get back to me, ok??

          2. pgl

            So much information and not a single pointless lie attacking someone needlessly. I would say nice but this kind of informative integrity gets old drunk Uncles Moses all angry.

          3. Barkley Rosser

            OK, since Moses is going on about quora, having mentioned me in connection with that in an earlier thread, where I thought I would just ignore it, but here he is going on about it more, I shall remind folks that although he has repeatedly identified me as constantly quoting quora, I did so exactly once here, and never read it otherwise. Got to it because of a google cite.

            So, let me repeat something I said in the earlier thread just now, which might get scrolled off by Menzie before it appears. An article or post must be examined on its own grounds, not on where it appears. The most prestigious journals in the word, Science and Nature, have both had to retract articles because of errors. That something appears in one of them does not necessarily make it right, although the probability of it being so is a lot higher than if it appeared in a tabloid.

            The one time I cited something in Quora its author was in fact an expert in the field with the underlying study that was quoted having been done at Harvard University. Oh, is Harvard not good enough for you, Moses? The real joke is that you have also repeatedly here quoted portions of that in a way that has made you look like an utter fool, the matter about how you think that because there an even distribution across a genome that means there is an even distribution across a population. You have been told every time you brought that claim up that it is utterly stupid and ignorant garbage, but somehow you keep brining it up, or as now, reminding us you have by sneering at Quora, where the genome statement appeared. This is sort of like seeing someone say “1+2=3” which you follow by then declaring that “2+2=5.” Really, your commentary on all that has been that stupid.

            Again, I have not been back to Quora since that one time and really do not know much about it. But just today on a Facebook discussion I saw somebody cite something in Quora that led to everybody in the thread agreeing with it, even though it upended what many had been saying, a matter involving a supposed quote by Albert Einstein. I shall note that among the people arguing about this matter in this thread who accepted this cite from Quora include both a current editor of one of the very top journals in econ, someone Menzie would agree is a very well known and respected economist if I were to name him, which I shall not, as well as another who is a former editor of one of those journals, these being way above the journals that either Menzie or I edit, in short very serious scholars with super high standards about editing and outlets. They accepted this cite from Quora.

            So, Moses, maybe you can drag up some inaccurate things that have appeared there. Again, I never read it except for that one time when the link was fully credible and accurate, but some very serious scholars seem to take it seriously. I think it is about time you stopped dragging it into discussions here, which only reminds people of how massively stupid and ignorant you are that you would over and over and over repeat the nonsensical claim that an even distribution over a genome implies an even distribution over a population.

            I happen to enjoy drinking decent alcoholic beverages myself, so not really into picking on people about such things, but in this case I fear I suspect pgl is right that you have been overindulging again that you have gotten so off into this silly sort of stuff.

            Oh, and not only is Jonas E. Alexis pretty much right about Victor Hanson, even if his observations appeared in VT, but Ivan is basically right that Biden seems to have cut the deal with Germany to take care of Ukraine if Russia gets badly behaved again with it on NG, which indeed has been the main concern about the Russia-Germany gas deal. You have come off making pretty much of a fool on both of these matters.

          4. baffling

            ivan, thanks for your perspective on the nat gas issues in germany, ukraine and russia. interesting. this situation is more complex than what has been published by the media. if the situation were as straight forward and simple as the media portrayed, it would have resolved itself a while ago.

          5. pgl

            Before you reply to this endless tiring and dishonest babble from old Uncle Moses, please read this:

            Barkley Rosser
            July 25, 2021 at 10:59 pm

            I bet Moses former kindergarten mates are also tired of him complaining how they stole his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Never mind Moses ate his own peanut butter and jelly sandwich some 75 years ago. He is still hammering on they allegedly stole it from him.

            Yea he does this sort of thing. Repeating the same old petty lie for decades. Why? I have no clue what truly insane people do what they do. But maybe we should just ignore this old fart as he lost his marbles back in his youth. And yea he is claiming someone stole his marbles.

          6. Ivan

            I appreciate those who were able and willing to evaluate my comments with an open mind – and shall waste no more time on anybody who were not.

          7. Moses Herzog

            @ Barkley Junior
            The problem is how transparent your cowardice is, and lack of academic ethics. If you had read the journal article, which you obviously hadn’t read any of before quoting it, which I quoted multiple times, large segments of it here on the blog (and you never so much as used a single word from the journal article here), you’d know it refuted many of your points—including your main one that the distribution was “skewed” which the authors stated it was not. You thought that by quoting a bad website, with pseudo-intellectual credentials that nobody would go to Google or Google Scholar to read the paper itself. Which I know for a fact you shit your pants when I did. or you might have chosen to quote just one sentence from the paper, ANY sentence that supported your “skewed” contention. It was not there, so you started grab-bagging and hoping Menzie would offer you semantic cover. It didn’t fly then, and it doesn’t fly now.

            The fact you still support your vacuous decision to quote Quora (instead of the journal itself, or even Google Scholar where the paper could be directly obtained and read, and that you, here again apparently wanting to defend quoting articles out of “Veterans Today” tells readers more about you than I could ever say. Maybe readers will be interested in what the Southern Poverty Law Center has to say about “Veterans Today”, along with all of the references on Wikipedia. “Veterans Today” is what pgl chooses to quote from, and “Veterans Today” is what Barkley Junior apparently thinks it’s ok to quote out of.





            When a person chooses to quote sites like “Veterans Today” that person lends them credibility, just like you lend pseudo-intellectual sites like Quora credibility by quoting them, when you know damned well the proper way to do those things (instead of obfuscating, and trying to hide the words of the research paper itself) is by quoting the journal article and the journal it is in directly.

            The fact your excuse is “Google brought me to Quora” is laughable. You got yourself a PhD so you could use rationalizing statements like “I only used this because Google brought me there”!?!?!?!?!? Your academic colleagues should wince every time they think of you saying something like that.

          8. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Honestly, what is the big problem with Quora? I’m not sure it’s better than Wikipedia, but I’m not so certain it’s that much worse, and certainly it’s a lot better than many things on the web. And faster than trying to get to primary source data in many instances (at least from my perspective).

          9. Moses Herzog

            Respectfully answering your question Menzie, The Quora “Partner Program” (which could possibly remind one some characteristics of a Ponzi scheme), phishing scams, false representations of “expertise”, user privacy, and a watering down of usefulness over time. They are trying to be the love child of Facebook and Wikipedia, and achieving the worst attributes of both. In short, it’s a site for people like Barkley Rosser who are more into preening and acting pretentious for a group of strangers than having a free exchange of knowledge. Almost everything you get on Quora, you can get on other sites more efficiently and in spades…… vs Quora.

            Menzie, Pick a random topic on Quora, ok?? Look at the date on most of the posts. That alone will tell you something.

          10. Moses Herzog

            @ Menzie
            So, just to be fair here, I’m not certain you’re expecting a reply. To me, 6 months old is not “archaic” arguably not even “dated” for that particular question. So you could say in this specific example you’ve shown me wrong on that score. However I think you would agree, the first answer is probably a bad answer, I know very few scientists who would say Sinovac is equal to Pfizer’s in efficacy. I hope you don’t mind when I say in all seriousness I expected better from a guy with the last name Chu. The 2nd comment also strikes me as bogus. “If symptoms are used, Pfizer vaccine would only lead to a protection efficacy of 29%.” So Luo is telling me that because I had some random head pains and felt my body temp rise that my Moderna (I know he’s discussing Pfizer, I’m talking his constraints for “efficacy”) that saved me from a possibly terminal virus, then it’s not efficacious??

            The 4th comment “Piao” I also view as bad, and I am guessing you would agree that one is self-evident. While expressing respect to you on your honesty in picking a random example which I think supports my contention—I think this does support my Quora argument. Though one could argue you have to take 100+ random threads to even come close to something that come close to meeting any kind of statistical rigor (and even 100 randomly chosen threads probably wouldn’t do it), I mean I think you get my point on it.

            My argument wasn’t with the paper—or I wouldn’t have quoted it ad infinitum. From my eyes, the paper looked well done and humongous in research labor and breadth. My argument was Barkley hiding the paper in a barn full of hay and saying “It says this, now go find it in the pile of hay”. As I recall he never even put the Quora link up, (or it was an inoperable link) I even had to search that out Menzie. It was behavior speaking of a man who had no paper to support his contentions.

          11. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Moses Herzog: If your point is Quora is not a good place to end up at, unless perhaps for very simple straightforward facts, I concur. I try to quote from sources I know (BLS, BEA, Fed, Census, DoT, etc.) but sometimes I take shortcuts when the stakes are not high (i.e., I’ll use Wikipedia). On a blogpost or comment thereon the standards – for better or worse – we don’t use academic standards. Even I don’t use academic standards for my blogposts, although I try to come close (helps to be a former factchecker on CEA memos).

            If you want to assess anybody on their scholarly work, *then* assess their sources accordingly, note how many citations their works get, and consider the venues wherein their papers are published.

          12. Barkley Rosser

            There you go again, Moses, declaring that 2+2=5 and even bragging about how you have gone on and on here about it, even as you have been shown repeatedly to have no idea what you are talking about. For those new here who have not seen all this, please contact me privately via email to get an explanation of this.

            For about the millionth time I do not use Quora at all. I did so once simply to get a source to explain here on this blog what was going on, which it did. This is not an academic journal or formal outlet. Wanted something that was reasonably clear and understandable, although to this day you have not understood it at all. You still wish to claim that the link showed that Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn have the same rate of Native American ancestry as European Americans in the state you live in, Oklahoma, and similar nonsense.

            Somehow you think this is a matter of academic ethics or even cowardice. How silly. Have you completely lost your mind, Moses? Did you drop it in a gutter somewhere?

            And note, that when one does not “quote Quora” or “quote VT.” One quotes the person who is posting on one of those places. You cannot even get that straight, you are so hopelessly derangd.

        2. pgl

          Most of your latest comments was drunk rabbling as usual. But that last paragraph was one pointless lie after another. Seriously dude – you have severe emotional problems. Seek professional help.

  2. Moses Herzog

    The IHME forecast graphs are pretty damned impressive. I’ll tell you, I’m thankful to have both of my Moderna shots. I’m thankful to God and a White House that is much more functional after around February this year. If you were born in this country this is another example of how you won the lottery. India, Russia, Brazil, Italy Spain. These places had a hell of a time getting the vaccine. Let’s be honest, around May of this year (possibly before) clear up to now, if you wanted the vaccine and didn’t get it, you have no one to blame but yourself.

    I just don’t feel sorry for most of these people (inside the USA) dying now, and if they’re wearing red MAGA dunce caps, so much the better. If you’re wearing a red MAGA dunce cap, it’s totally your choice to take the vaccine. Damn right. Don’t you MAGA folks take that vaccine if your gut tells you it’s bad. I applaud your individualism. You let those Democrats go get the vaccine and get autism, Damn it, it serves those dirty liberals right. MAGA folks, go clean your guns without checking to see if the chamber is cleared if you don’t feel like it. This is America damn it, don’t you get into this brainwashing stuff of checking the chambers before you clean your gun when you don’t feel like it—that’s what brainwashed dirty liberals do. You don’t be a sheep like them dirty liberals. I’ll tell you how damned dumb those liberal sheep are—you know most of them wouldn’t even drink bleach. That’s a liberal sheep for you. donald trump gonna lead MAGA independent thinkers to Bleach Land. Because the orange abomination knows a “loving crowd” when he sees one.

  3. baffling

    i found it interesting a few years ago, dick stryker was adamant that bakeries should be allowed to not make wedding cakes for a gay wedding. businesses had a right to do what they wanted, including not servicing a gay wedding. but apparently today, if you are a conservative, your argument is that businesses should not be allowed to keep unvaccinated unmasked virus carriers out of their establishment. so let me get this straight, in the conservative world, it is ok to keep a gay couple out of your business, but it is not ok to keep a deadly virus out of your establishment. discrimination is ok, except if it is a deadly virus. yep, logic at its finest in the conservative echo chamber. you just can’t make this stuff up folks!

      1. baffling

        i was not a big fan of peter hotez when he initially started going public. his work in vaccines indicated he had a bias on the coronavirus situation. however, i will admit that today i appreciate him far more than when the virus first emerged. he has been a solid voice of reason, even with pressure exerted on him by some in the media and political sphere. the texas medical center has responded rather well to the pandemic, in part because of the pressure peter has applied to political and business leaders in the state.

    1. pgl

      The RICK has a trigger happy GayDar indeed. Now if could only have some respect for social distancing …

  4. Ivan

    Their predictions have been impressive. A lot of unpredictable political and human behavior and viral bio-charateristics (mutations) variables influence the outcome. Getting their models to perform that well is not just skill but also luck. I hope their current models have incorporated the delta variant – otherwise they will be in for a nasty surprise.

  5. rjs

    let me nitpik your line here, Menzie…

    “This wave doesn’t seem so bad — until you think about the fact that this is occurring in the summer months, when people are less likely to be inside and in close contact.”

    it seems to me that this surge is fairly much concentrated in southern states, ie, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, et al…so in the heat, they are more likely to be indoors and presumably in closer contact..

  6. baffling

    “so in the heat, they are more likely to be indoors and presumably in closer contact..”
    but you can CHOOSE to not be inside with close contact. at least in texas, there are far too many people cramming into bars and restaurants. maskless and unvaccinated. its a choice. same outcome when winter comes around i am afraid. don’t blame the weather. blame the mindset.

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