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Justin Fox

Don’t Like What the Virus Models Say? Try Building Your Own

There are a lot of variables in figuring out how many people will die from Covid-19, including how we humans react to the worst-case scenarios.

We’ve got options.

We’ve got options.

Photographer: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

These are the best of times for disease modelers. They have the ear of presidents and prime ministers, and are getting huge amounts of news media attention. Their work is surely having greater impact now than ever before.

These are also the worst of times for disease modelers, because they have to model the behavior not just of diseases but also of the humans that carry them. This is always tough to get right, but far tougher when presidents, prime ministers and other people are listening to the disease modelers and in some cases rapidly changing their behavior in response.