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Google Updates COVID-19 Forecasting Models
November 21, 2020 - 8:28 am

In August, in partnership with the Harvard Global Health Institute, Google launched a set of models — the COVID-19 Public Forecasts — that provide projections of COVID-19 cases, deaths, ICU utilization, ventilator availability, and other metrics for U.S. counties and states. Today, the two organizations released what they claim are significantly improved models — trained on public data from Johns Hopkins University, Descartes Labs, the United States Census Bureau, and elsewhere — that expand beyond the U.S.

The COVID-19 Public Forecasts are intended to serve as a resource for first responders in health care, the public sector, and other affected organizations, Google says. The forecasts allow for targeted testing and public health interventions on a county-by-county basis, in theory enhancing users’ ability to respond to the rapidly evolving pandemic. For example, health care providers could incorporate the forecasted number of cases as a datapoint in resource planning for PPE, staffing, and scheduling. Meanwhile, state and county health departments could use the forecast of infections to inform testing strategies and identify areas at risk of an outbreak.

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What we can learn from the 1918 Flu Pandemic as the Omicron variant spreads
What we can learn from the 1918 Flu Pandemic as the Omicron variant spreads

Historically, most pandemics end within 2 to 3 years as the virus mutates into a less virulent pathogen and the population builds up immunity. This is what happened to the influenza strain behind the 1918 flu pandemic.

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