assembling probable wisdom computing contingent estimations modeling predictive contingencies aggregating accurate estimations assembling accurate contingencies mapping the future aggregating intelligent understanding mapping intelligent contingencies forecasting contingent forecasts modeling definitive contingencies modeling predictive forecasts predicting accurate insights generating calibrated insights calculating precise insights


Metaculus Help: Spread the word

If you like Metaculus, tell your friends! Share this question via Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit.

Pandemic series: how likely is emergence of a deadly new airborne pathogen?

Airborne pathogens pose a high pandemic threat because they can so easily spread from person to person, making effective quarantine very difficult. A number of such pathogens in both viral (e.g. Flu, Smallpox, and of course the Common Cold) and bacterial (e.g. Tuberculosis, Whooping Cough) form are well known, and new ones are periodically discovered.

Both transmissibility and fatality rates vary significant across such diseases. The cold is generally highly transmissible but very rarely fatal. The relatively new MERS coronavirus is fatal in of order 40% of cases, though its transmissibility is currently low.

Most worrisome are pathogens combining high transmissibility with a relatively high fatality rate: the Spanish Flu, with a 5-10% fatality rate and very easy airborne transmission, was a tragic example. How likely is the emergence of another possible example in the next few years?

By 2019 will the CDC, WHO, or a published scientific paper report cases of a naturally-occurring qualitatively new airborne pathogen with a mortality rate of > 5%?

We'll consider a pathogen "qualitatively new" if it is given a unique new name or official nomenclature and widely described as "new." We define a "potential death rate of X" as being fulfilled by any report of > 100 cases in which > X death occurs, or in which > 1 death is reported in a number of reported cases exceeding 100/X. We will consider a pathogen airborne if the CDC, WHO, or a published scientific article verifies that it can in at least some cases be spread without direct contact between people and without contact with bodily fluids or via an intermediate vector.


Metaculus help: Predicting

Predictions are the heart of Metaculus. Predicting is how you contribute to the wisdom of the crowd, and how you earn points and build up your personal Metaculus track record.

The basics of predicting are very simple: move the slider to best match the likelihood of the outcome, and click predict. You can predict as often as you want, and you're encouraged to change your mind when new information becomes available.

The displayed score is split into current points and total points. Current points show how much your prediction is worth now, whereas total points show the combined worth of all of your predictions over the lifetime of the question. The scoring details are available on the FAQ.

Note: this question resolved before its original close time. All of your predictions came after the resolution, so you did not gain (or lose) any points for it.

Note: this question resolved before its original close time. You earned points up until the question resolution, but not afterwards.

This question is not yet open for predictions.

Thanks for predicting!

Your prediction has been recorded anonymously.

Want to track your predictions, earn points, and hone your forecasting skills? Create an account today!

Track your predictions
Continue exploring the site

Community Stats

Metaculus help: Community Stats

Use the community stats to get a better sense of the community consensus (or lack thereof) for this question. Sometimes people have wildly different ideas about the likely outcomes, and sometimes people are in close agreement. There are even times when the community seems very certain of uncertainty, like when everyone agrees that event is only 50% likely to happen.

When you make a prediction, check the community stats to see where you land. If your prediction is an outlier, might there be something you're overlooking that others have seen? Or do you have special insight that others are lacking? Either way, it might be a good idea to join the discussion in the comments.

Embed this question

You can use the below code snippet to embed this question on your own webpage. Feel free to change the height and width to suit your needs.