Covid-19: modeling, a tool that is both crucial and limited for decision-making


DECRYPTION – Modelers have to take into account too many unpredictable parameters and remain humble in the face of the complexity of the phenomena they are especially seeking to better understand.

On October 29, 2020, Emmanuel Macron announced a second confinement and then launched this figure: “Whatever we do, nearly 9,000 patients will be in intensive care by mid-November. ” The 5,000 mark will never be crossed. Could the Institut Pasteur modeling team behind this estimate be wrong? It is not so simple. What their models predicted then (carried out on October 26) is that the number of people in critical care could be between 5,000 and 13,000 three weeks later, depending on five scenarios of the spread of the virus. This is the most conservative scenario (no parameters change, the current dynamic continues) which resulted in the figure of around 9000. Suffice to say that we were far from “Whatever we do” stated by the president: the modelers were already clearly showing that by slowing the spread of the virus, the impact on hospitals could be greatly reduced.

Obviously, the chief’s speech

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