Report that suggested ending shutdown would lead to coronavirus spike was based on outdated models

A dire report published by The New York Times on Friday predicted that ending shutdowns too soon would lead to a “dramatic infection spike” of coronavirus over the summer … but the reporting quickly collapsed after others noted that the models behind the prediction were outdated.

The Times reported Friday afternoon that they had obtained a leaked document showing that there could be up to 300,000 deaths from coronavirus in the U.S. if the economy is re-opened on May 1.

The document came from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security and predicted the spread of the coronavirus under different levels of mitigation that could occur. The numbers would be about 200,000 deaths, according to the document, if schools remained closed until summer and people continued to social distance and work from home when possible.

Problems with models

There are several problems with both the models and the Times’ reporting on them, Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle reported.

First of all, The Times claimed that the leaked documents were current — dated April 9 — but did not note that the models were dated March 31. The difference is crucial — at the end of March, models were predicting over 100,000 deaths in the U.S.

Now, based on the most current data, the current projected total death toll “looks more like 60,000,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday. Former Times reporter Alex Berenson pointed out the discrepancy on Twitter:

The Times even admits this in the last paragraph of their article, which says, “These numbers fueling the projections may already be out of date. Forecasts accepted by the White House that once estimated at least 100,000 deaths in the United States have now been revised to about 60,000, thanks to aggressive social distancing.”

Moving away from models

Dr. Deborah Birx also pointed out in a press conference this week that the task force has moved away from looking at modeling as much and is more focused on real-time data. Not only have the death toll models been revised downward several times since March 31, but hospitalizations have been far below the models’ projections, Breitbart reported.

In addition, all of the current models are also flawed in that most states are still only testing patients that show symptoms consistent with coronavirus. In the few places where widespread testing has been done, many asymptomatic patients have been found.

Breitbart reported that Dr. Fauci even addressed this in a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine in late March, noting that the death rate “may be considerably less than 1%” and is probably “more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza.”

Antibody test has surprising results

Interestingly, antibody testing that has started in the Chicago area has revealed that 30 to 50% of those tested have the antibodies for the COVID-19 coronavirus, whether they have ever had symptoms of the virus or not. These results suggest that many people in the Chicago area have already had the virus and may have immunity from getting it in the future.

Dr. Fauci said Thursday that more widespread antibody testing is coming very soon. Hopefully, the results will give courage to President Donald Trump and state governors as they consider when to end shutdowns and get the economy back on track.

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