The IHME Model Virus Policy Is Based On Is A Complete Joke So Far

As the numbers below will show, if this is what’s driving public policy in Louisiana and elsewhere something is badly, badly off.

IHME stands for Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an outfit based at the University of Washington. A week ago it popped out death, hospitalization and case-count projections for every state as well as the country as a whole, and it appears the Trump administration and lots of state governments took heed of its data model in making public policy surrounding the coronavirus.

The IHME model is the one pegging Louisiana’s death toll at 1,978, with a peak of 85 deaths in one day on April 11, a week from tomorrow.

IHME is now saying that it projects some 93,000 deaths nationally – which is an upward revision from 82,000 on March 30.

In the meantime, The Federalist’s Sean Davis took a detailed look at how the model is performing, and yesterday on Twitter Davis announced he was less than impressed.

So how is the model doing in Louisiana?

Yesterday, IHME projected there would be 337 deaths in the state. The actual number reported by the Louisiana Department of Health and the governor’s office was 310. It’s off by 27, which doesn’t seem like a lot, except IHME has revised its Louisiana total death number from 1,978
to 1,834. That’s arguably a pretty significant revision in five days, but you might not be convinced of that – though you might be less than impressed by the fact IHME projected 52 deaths in Louisiana yesterday and the actual number was 25. Of course, with the way Louisiana’s numbers are being reported, day-to-day comparisons as worthless anyway.

What about hospitalizations? Well, now we start to see some problems. Yesterday the state reported there were 1,639 people in Louisiana hospitalized with the coronavirus. IHME had projected that by yesterday there would be 5,865 hospitalizations.

As Davis said, you really can’t use a model which overshoots the numbers on hospitalizations this badly.


What about ventilators? By yesterday IHME predicted Louisiana would need 853 ventilators. Yesterday the state reported there were 507 people needing them. Not as bad as hospitalizations, obviously, but that’s still far off.

We’re told the state has already spent upwards of $500 million on the coronavirus, and that doesn’t come close to the real cost of this event to our economy, which was already down the tubes before it showed up and is now an unmitigated rout with unemployment claims rising more than a hundred times in the last two weeks.

Meanwhile, a data model which is supposedly driving policy, and particularly with respect to what effect the virus will have on healthcare resources, is after just a few days completely off the mark in assessing that.

Perhaps this is good news, in that the virus isn’t as bad as it was projected to be. Call that cold comfort for people whose livelihoods and dreams lay in ruins due to government policy.



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