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Overview of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) forecasts

Global EpidemiologyMedical InterventionsGovernment PolicyTesting and TrackingClinical ScienceEconomy and BusinessSocial and Political Impact
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Global Epidemiology

The 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak was designated a pandemic by the WHO on March 11, 2020 [1]. As of April 19th, more than 2M cases of COVID-19 have been reported in over 180 countries and territories [2].

Many infections of SARS-CoV-2 (novel coronavirus) will likely go undetected, because of lack of access to testing and the lack of symptoms amongst many individuals infected [3].

Estimated total and diagnosed total cases in 2020

Probability distributions of the community prediction of the actual total number of infections human deaths occurred before January 1 2021 as estimated in the year 2021 (left chart), and the probability distribution of the number of total confirmed infections reported to have occurred before January 1 2021 (right chart).

As of March 23rd, over 15,000 fatalities due to COVID-19 have been confirmed [4] . Preliminary research has yielded case fatality rate numbers between 2% and 3% [5]. in January 2020 the WHO suggested that the case fatality rate was approximately 3% [6].

Predicted total number of fatalities worldwide



It is currently not known when the global coronavirus outbreak will peak, as this depends on country-based mitigation efforts, medical advances, and a series of key epidemiological factors, some of which are poorly understood at present for COVID-19 [7].

Predicted total diagnosed cases globally across various quarters

Probability distribution of the Metaculus community prediction of the total global number of human infections reported in the second, third and fourth quarter of 2020, and the first quarter of 2021 that.

The proportion of deaths to the total numbers of cases, or case fatality rate (CFR). The CFR is not a value which is tied to the given disease, but is instead reflective of the severity of the disease in a particular context, at a particular time, in a particular population [8].

Predicted best-estimate of Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) available before 2021

Probability distribution of the Metaculus community prediction of ratio of fatalities to total estimated infections for COVID-19 by the end of 2020.

The transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 (novel coronavirus) varies across region and time as this depends on local human factors, including contact structure, mitigation responses and demographics [9, 10].

Probability distribution of the Metaculus community prediction of the implied doubling-time (in number of days) is over the period from 20th of Jan till to the last day of the month that sees the highest growth in the number of cases.


Medical Interventions

Although no vaccine has completed clinical trials, there are multiple attempts in progress to develop such a vaccine. In late February 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it did not expect a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the causative virus, to become available in less than 18 months [11].

Predicted timeline for a vaccine being administered outside of clinical trials

Right chart: predicted date when at least 10M individuals have been administered a COVID-19 vaccine. Left chart: the probability that at least 10K individuals are to be vaccinated in 2020 (right chart).

Remdesivir is a novel antiviral drug in the class of nucleotide analogs. It was developed by Gilead Sciences and as a treatment for Ebola virus disease and Marburg virus infections [12]. Remdesivir has been administered to several hundred patients with confirmed, severe SARS-CoV-2 infections in the United States, Europe, and Japan through Expanded Access or Compassionate Use programs [13]. On 20 March 2020, the FDA made remdesivir available for compassionate use to patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 [14].

Chloroquine, a widely-used anti-malarial and autoimmune disease drug, has been reported as a potential broad-spectrum antiviral drug [15].

Predictions on various antivirals being administered to at least 50,000 COVID-19 patients in 2020 in the US, UK, Europe, and Japan.

Time-series of the Metaculus community prediction whether a variety of antiviral medications will be administered to at least 50,000 patients with SARS-CoV-2 infections in the US, UK, EU member states, and Japan, by the end of 2020.

Sofosbuvir is an antiviral medication used as part of combination therapy to treat chronic Hepatitis C, an infectious liver disease caused by infection with Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) [16]. Sofosbuvir was included in Elsevier's list of COVID-19 potential future treatment options for COVID-19 [17].

Favipiravir is an antiviral drug being developed by Toyama Chemical of Japan with activity against many RNA viruses [18] Tocilizumab is an immunosuppressive drug [19].

It is currently unclear how effective various antiviral medications are in improving clinical outcomes amongst COVID-19 patients.

COVID-19 case fatality reduction factor under various antiviral medications

Probability distributions of the Metaculus community prediction of the factor by which the case fatality rate is reduced, according to a careful comparative study.


Government Policy

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, have implemented restrictions on travel and movement [20].

Predicted lock-down timelines across various locations

Probability distribution of the Metaculus community prediction of the date when the lockdowns will be eased or removed in various locations.


Testing and Tracking

Laboratory testing COVID-19 and the associated SARS-CoV-2 virus includes methods that detect the presence of virus and those that detect antibodies produced in response to infection. Testing and other types of surveillance has been suggested to be an important component of containment policy [21].

Predicted total number of tests administered in the US by June 1st, 2020

Probability distribution of the Metaculus community prediction of whether, the total number of tests administered by June 1, +/- one week

App-based tracking of COVID-19 cases

Time series of the Metaculus community prediction of whether, by May 1 will there be an iOS or Android app that shares an individual's COVID-19 infection status with more than 1M other users (left chart), and of whether either Google, Facebook, or Apple offer an opt-in coronavirus tracking capability (right chart).

NSA-data used for tracking COVID-19 cases

Time series of the Metaculus community prediction of whether, by September 2020, it be revealed that data gathered by the NSA has been used for tracking COVID-19 infections.


Clinical Science


Predicted duration and extent of post-infection adaptive immunity

Probability distributions of the Metaculus community prediction the percentage of recovered individuals that develop severe clinical features when when re-exposed to Sars-CoV-2. Percent on the x-axis (log-scale).


Predicted fatality ratio in the US of COVID-19 patients who need and receive invasive ventilation

Probability distributions of the Metaculus community prediction of the fatality ratio in the US of COVID-19 patients who need and receive invasive ventilation.


Economy and Business

Predicted Q2 2020 GDP growth rate in the United States

Probability distributions of the Metaculus community prediction of the the quarter-on-quarter US Q2 2020 GDP growth rate be, according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis Advance Estimate.


Social and Political Impact

Predicted CDC budget for the fiscal year 2022

Probability distributions of the Metaculus community prediction of the requested CDC budget for the fiscal year 2022.

Predicted number of confirmed COVID-19 cases amongst US Representatives and Senators by 2021

Probability distributions of the Metaculus community prediction of the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases amongst the US federal legislature by 2021..


About us

Metaculus is a reputation-based, massive online prediction solicitation and aggregation engine. Our goal is to generate predictions on important, big-picture questions.

Feel free to get in touch with us with any questions or requests regarding our forecasting efforts.