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Numerous mathematical models are being produced to forecast the future of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemics in the US and worldwide. These predictions have far-reaching consequences regarding how quickly and how strongly governments move to curb an epidemic. However, the primary and most effective use of epidemiological models is to estimate the relative effect of various interventions in reducing disease burden rather than to produce precise quantitative predictions about extent or duration of disease burdens. For predictions, “models are not crystal balls,” as Ferguson noted in a recent overview of the role of modeling.1
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Corresponding Author: Nicholas P. Jewell, PhD, Department of Medical Statistics, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Published Online: April 16, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.6585
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Drs Jewell, Lewnard, and Jewell reported currently having a paid contract with Kaiser Permanente to advise them regarding hospital demand associated with coronavirus disease 2019 cases. No other disclosures were reported.
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