America’s Next Top Model

Early in the pandemic, the dominant COVID-19 forecasting systems produced pretty patchy results.
Then, with no formal training in medicine or epidemiology, data scientist Youyang Gu built his his own model. He took on heavyweights like the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. 

It proved more accurate than the well-funded competition, predicting in late April that the U.S. would see 80,000 deaths by May 9. The actual death toll? 79,926.
Public health experts started paying attention.
While each system’s merits are still being debated, in the future the government should embrace a wide array of models early on, notes University of Massachusetts, Amherst’s  Nicholas Reich.

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