Washington University IHME COVID Projections Are Embarrassing

IHME (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation) has a statistical model to forecast COVID deaths and hospitalizations.

The Annals of Internal Medicine had a review from 2020.

The IHME projections are based not on transmission dynamics but on a statistical model with no epidemiologic basis. Specifically, the model used reported worldwide COVID-19 deaths and extrapolated similar patterns in mortality growth curves to forecast expected deaths. The technique uses mortality data, which are generally more reliable than testing-dependent confirmed case counts. Outputs suggest precise estimates (albeit with uncertainty bounds) for all regions until the epidemic ends.

The modeling analysis by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) (1) projecting deaths due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has attracted considerable attention, including from the U.S. government (2). The model used COVID-19 mortality projections to estimate hospital bed requirements and deaths.

Recently in January 2022 and up to Feb 16, 2022 the IHME has been projecting 934,000 cumulative COVID deaths in the USA up to June 1, 2022. They updated and changed the projection days before the CDC would have updated to surpass the ridiculous 934,000 cumulative deaths by June 1, 2022.

The CDC already recorded over 930,811 COVID deaths as of Feb 18, 2022. The daily US COVID seven-day moving average is about 2000 deaths per day. The February 23st count for deaths up to February 22th will be about 937,000. This will be when the CDC catches up on weekend and holiday counts.

The new IHME projection of US cumulative COVID deaths for June 1, 2022 is 947,622. This is also absurd. This will be passed in the first week of March and perhaps by Feb 28, 2022.

Bizarrely, Worldometers has its own cumulative counts of COVID deaths by country. Worldometers links its country counts to IHME projections. Worldometers reports 959000 cumulative US COVID deaths but then links to IHME projections out to June 1, 2022 that are lower than Worldometers for Feb 20, 2022.

Nextbigfuture indicated that the US will pass one million cumulative COVID deaths in March 2022. It will be early March for Worldometers and then mid-March for John Hopkins and then the end of March for the CDC.

The US daily COVID deaths are decreasing but not at the sharp projections from IHME.

The CDC will likely report 945,000-948000 cumulative COVID deaths for Feb 28, 2022.
John Hopkins will report about 949,000-953,000 cumulative COVID deaths for Feb 28, 2022.
Worldometers will report 975,000-980,000 cumulative COVID deaths for Feb 2022.

Reporting lags on the weekend and holidays.

If there was an average of 1500 daily COVID deaths in March :
The CDC will likely report 1M COVID cumulative COVID deaths April 1-7, 2022.
John Hopkins will likely report 1M COVID cumulative COVID deaths March 28, 2022- April 3, 2022.
Worldometers will report 1M COVID cumulative COVID deaths about March 10, 2022- March 15, 2022.

The new IHME projection of US cumulative COVID deaths for June 1, 2022 is 947,622 is already below the Worldometer count for today. Johns Hopkins and the CDC will likely pass the IHME June 1, 2022 projection by the end of February, 2022.

Is the long-term relative steady-state for the US and world COVID epidemic like the summer of 2021? The summer of 2021 was when there were significant amounts of vaccination and a peak level of immunity relative to the variants of COVID. This could be what it looks like longer-term when everyone has been infected multiple times before and has reasonable immunity to the COVID variants. This is the case with the flu. Every year most people get the flu but they have had the flu multiple times before.

This would mean long-term daily US COVID deaths in the 200 to 500 range. This would mean annual US COVID deaths of 70,000 to 200,000. Flu seasons in the US usually have 20,000 to 100,000 deaths per year. Flu hospitalizations range from 150,000 to 1.2 million in typical years. Eventually better medications and treatments could reduce COVID deaths.

Conquering COVID will mean addressing obesity and the immune system of the elderly. The obese are three times as likely to die from COVID. The elderly are also more vulnerable.

SOURCES: CDC, IHME, John Hopkins, Worldometers
Written by Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com