New Model Predicts the Peaks of the COVID-19 Pandemic


As of late May, COVID-19 has killed more than 325,000 people around the world. 

As of late May, COVID-19 has killed more than 325,000 people around the world. Even though the worst seems to be over for countries like China and South Korea, public health experts warn that cases and fatalities will continue to surge in many parts of the world. Understanding how the disease evolves can help these countries prepare for an expected uptick in cases.

This week in the journal Frontiers, researchers describe a single function that accurately describes all existing available data on active cases and deaths—and predicts forthcoming peaks. The tool uses q-statistics, a set of functions and probability distributions developed by Constantino Tsallis, a physicist and SFI External Professor Emeritus. Tsallis worked on the new model together with Ugur Tirnakli, a physicist at Ege University, in Turkey.

“The formula works in all the countries in which we have tested,” says Tsallis.

Neither physicist ever set out to model a global pandemic. But Tsallis says that when he saw the shape of published graphs representing China’s daily active cases, he recognized shapes he’d seen before—namely, in graphs he’d helped produce almost two decades ago to describe the behavior of the stock market.

Read more at Santa Fe Institute

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