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Overview of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) forecasts

The global spread of COVID-19 cases
The regional spread of COVID-19 cases
Vaccines and medical countermeasures
Epidemiological characteristics
Cancellations, closures and quarantines

The global spread of COVID-19 cases

The 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak was designated a pandemic by the WHO on March 11, 2020 [1]. As of 21 March, more than 283,000 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

Time-series of the Metaculus 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 time-series of the number of total confirmed infections reported to have occurred before January 1 2021 (right chart).

Our COVID-19 forecasting efforts

We have launched a forecasting domain dedicated to the COVID-19 pandemic, pandemic.Metaculus, where you may find more predictions on issues related to COVID-19.

In addition, we are currently running two forecasting tournaments on COVID-19 related issues:

The Li Wenliang contest I with a total of $850 in prizes

The Li Wenliang contest II with a total of $1050 in prizes



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

Time-series 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 regional spread of COVID-19 cases

Six territories (Western Pacific Region, European Region, South-East Asia Region, Eastern Mediterranean Region, Region of the Americas, African Region) have reported cases of COVID19 [8]. The level of risk of local spread varies between regions. Some regions are currently only experiencing imported cases, whereas in others local transmission is occurring [9]. Mitigation responses also vary regionally.

Total cumulative diagnosed infections across WHO regions

Time-series of the Metaculus community prediction of the total cumulative diagnosed infections across various regions, as reported by the WHO on the 27th of March.


Total cumulative diagnosed infections across the US, UK, Europe and the location with the highest number of cases outside of mainland China

Time-series of the Metaculus community prediction of the total cumulative diagnosed infections across various countries and regions, as reported by select medical sources.

Vaccines and medical countermeasures

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 [10].

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 [11]. 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 [12]. On 20 March 2020, the FDA made remdesivir available for compassionate use to patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 [13].

The time-series of the Metaculus community prediction of whether, before the end of 2020, the FDA will report that remdesivir has been officially authorised for use in humans as a medical countermeasure to COVID-19.

Epidemiological characteristics

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 [14].

Time-series 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 [10, 15].

Time-series 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.

Cancellations, closures and quarantines

Time-series of the Metaculus community prediction of whether the Tokyo Olympics will be cancelled, delayed, or its venue moved.

Time-series of the Metaculus community prediction of whether the US, EU or the UK experience a food shortage due to COVID-19 before June 6th, 2020.

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.