Amidst the frightening figures of job losses and soaring number of COVID-19 cases, the prediction of the end of the pandemic appears like a light at the end of the tunnel.
Prediction of the End of COVID-19
When more than one-third of the world’s population in lockdown and the world still clueless about the proven origin of the virus and grappling for development of a vaccine, researchers at the Data-Driven Innovation Lab of the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) have come up with a novel mathematical model to predict the end of the pandemic in different countries. Based on the pattern of the spread of COVID-19 from China to the rest of the world and it’s slowing down, the researchers have predicted end dates for the coronavirus in 131 countries.
The model predicts the world will see a 97 percent decline by May 30, climbing to 99 percent by June 17, and 100 percent by December 1. Italy will see a 97 percent decline by May 9, a 99 percent decline by May 24, and a 100 percent drop by August 31. The Italian data seems to be in line with Italy Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s announcement of easing of coronavirus lockdown measures from May 4.
The report states India will see a 97 percent decline by May 25, a 99 percent drop by June 5, and a 100 percent reduction by August 3. This is close to what the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has also hinted.
Is the Data Credible?
The report states that on the basis of current data of the pandemic and the knowledge of historical pandemic process patterns, it is possible to predict the end dates of COVID-19. The report says “predictive monitoring” approach is better because monitoring of likely future events related to coronavirus encourages precautionary or proactive actions. This is in contrast with the present monitoring process of reporting the actual number of cases, recovery, and death every day, which prompts reactive and passive policies and actions, such as locking down a city only when the number of infections has gone up.
Making a Better Action Plan for the Unexpected
Singapore researchers said that like other pandemics, coronavirus follows a life cycle pattern from the outbreak to the acceleration phase, inflection point, deceleration phase, and the ultimate stop or end. However, life cycles of any pandemic differ across various countries, so at a specific point in time, different countries might be in different phases of the life cycle. The report states that a particular country can chalk out and implement a judicious plan based on the knowledge of the pandemic life cycle.
The report claims also that the prediction for Italy and other countries is expected to be more accurate that have passed their inflection points and are near ending phases of their present curves because it is based on data covering much more diverse phases of the life cycle.
However, the report cautions that although prediction based on science and data is objective, it is uncertain by nature. The model, data, and prediction are insufficient and inaccurate to fully represent the multifaceted, evolving, and varied realities of our world. So, too much optimism based on predicted end dates is dangerous, as it may lead to complacency and loosening of disciplines, which could result in the turnaround of the virus and infection and that must be avoided at all costs.
The model states that as the world is connected, monitoring and control of one country must be coupled with the monitoring and control of other countries. Early relaxation of social distancing and lockdown in the United States and other nations might increase infection rates and thus delay the ending as predicted now.