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The Good and Bad News from a Coronavirus Pandemic Model

How many people could die from a novel coronavirus infection? Of course, no one knows. But just before anyone had a hint of COVID-19, we got an estimate from a panel of health, security, and economic experts: 65 million deaths worldwide within 18 months.

That is a high estimate—likely far too high—from a model with a bunch of assumptions. But it is based on enough solid scientific, political, and business expertise to make you stop wondering why you can’t go to your local restaurant, visit your grandmother in the nursing home, and why there is every reason to be very concerned.

In October 2019, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Economic Forum hosted a pandemic. It simulated the appearance of a novel coronavirus disease that spread from bats to pigs to people. “There is no possibility of a vaccine being available in the first year,” reads a line in the fictional scenario.

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