Medical modeling: Trying to predict the future of a pandemic

A poster that reads "limit exposure"
A poster that reads "limit exposure" is stapled to a pole on Hennepin Avenue last month.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

The latest model from the University of Washington’s School of Medicine lowered the estimate of Minnesotans who could die from COVID-19 through August from around 2,000 to 632.

But at a Monday press briefing, Gov. Tim Walz said he considers that projection “overly optimistic.” Early models produced by the University of Minnesota had a much higher figure: up to 50,000 deaths over the course of 12 months.

Why the discrepancy? What about medical modeling makes this difficult?

On Wednesday, MPR News’ Kerri Miller spoke with two experts about what medical modeling can tell us — and what it can’t.


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