COVID-19 Day 53: The Pandemic Ends in June. Or October. Probably.


When will the pandemic end? California’s Governor Gavin Newsom stated the obvious, that things couldn’t “return to normal” until a vaccine is developed. Dr. Fauci recently said it could take 12-18 months to develop a vaccine for SARS2 (the coronavirus that causes COVID-19). That is record-breaking speed given that the Ebola vaccine took 5 years to develop.

There is good reason to be hopeful. Scientists have a head start because of previous work on a SARS1 vaccine in the early 2000s, which stalled out due to lack of funding. Dr. Fauci at the NIH offered research grants to renew vaccine research last year. It’s ironic the NIH is now being criticized by some for not offering enough funding, and by others for encouraging that research (and potentially setting the stage for SARS2) 

It’s very possible that the pandemic will end before a vaccine is developed. Some optimistic epidemiologists believe that COVID-19 will act like other respiratory viruses and burn out during the summer. But these few scientists aren’t the only ones predicting good news. There is a phenomenon is known as ‘The wisdom of crowds’; some statisticians believe that if you poll enough people you’ll get a more accurate prediction than any single expert source. This is why mutual funds regularly outperform investment gurus. We can see indications of an optimistic end to COVID-19 in large groups in the stock market and illegal betting.

The S&P Futures are publicly traded financial contracts that are used to ‘bet on’ changes in the stock market months in advance. The SEP2020 futures reflect what investors think the S&P 500 index will look like in September. After a large negative dip after the National Emergency was announced in March, the value of SEP2020 futures has steadily climbed back. While no exact date as to the end of the pandemic can be gleaned from the pricing of S&P Futures, it’s clearly suggestive that investors think things will be better by Fall.

Sports betting sites make their bones on laying down odds on future outcomes. With many sporting events canceled due to the pandemic, some have turned to betting on COVID-19. On a Russian betting site, they’re laying down 5 to 1 odds that the WHO will announce ‘the end of the pandemic’ by July 1, 2020. They’re also giving 4 to 1 odds that a vaccine will be developed by September 1.

But perhaps the most compelling prediction for a date comes from The Singapore University of Technology and Design. Their SIR models predicted when the pandemic will end for various countries based on their reported COVID-19 infection data. Based on current infection and recovery rates, they predict the pandemic will end in the US sometime between June and October 2020.

No single one of these predictions will likely be 100% accurate. But taken together they point to light at the end of the tunnel. Whether that light is good or bad is up to further interpretation.

May the odds be ever in your favor and May the 4th be with you.



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