Forecasting the end of Corona using Collective Intelligence

March 25, 2020

by LIOR ZOREF @lior

I wish to share with you an important forecast I created trying to predict the return to ‘normal life’ using collective intelligence.

Here are the results:
According to my crowdsourced study with 549 participants, Israel will start returning to normal life (under the Ministry of Health’s restrictions) starting May 15 2020. This is 8 weeks after implementing the social isolation policy.

Other countries that implement strict policies early enough, including social isolation and mass testing, should also start returning to normal life within 6-10 weeks following the implementation of the isolation policy.

The return to normal life is likely to be gradual and many experts predict another Coronavirus wave next winter. However, according to this forecast, starting mid-May, the daily number of new patients in Israel will drop to low levels and the government will start allowing citizens to return to their normal lives. This includes going out, meeting other people, allowing people to attend events, and opening skies with the return of flights.

This study surveyed 549 Israelis – 236 men and 313 women. Of these, 30 people claimed to be medical professionals. The average age of respondents is 44. The survey was open for 8 days, starting March 12 until March 20. The questionnaire was distributed on social networks.

The question that was asked was: “From what date do you estimate that we will start returning to normal life? The definition for normal life: The number of daily Corona patients has dropped systematically to a very low level; the Israeli Ministry of Health will allow almost full return to normal life (under minimum restrictions) so that people can fly, attend events, and so on.”

The median date was May 15, 2020. The average was June 1, 2020. The most distant date was May 2, 2021. When examining the data from medical professionals, the median is May 17, 2020 and the average is June 1, 2020.

Below is the graph with the data:

English Graph

In 2015, Bill Gates warned the world of the next epidemic. In his TED talk,  he predicted a large-scale epidemic with the challenges we face today. On March 19, 2020, Bill Gates provided his forecast for the end of the Coronavirus epidemic: “If a country does a good job with testing and ’shut down’ then within 6-10 weeks they should see very few cases and be able to open back up”.

Bill Gates’s forecast is similar the collective intelligence results of this study. It is reasonable to predict the return of normal life in other countries approximately 8 weeks after starting social isolation and increased testing.

The limitations of the study are reflected in the fact that it was conducted only among Israelis. In addition, the number of medical professionals who participated in the study is small and insufficient to produce a crowdsourced forecast among experts.

This forecast is the first attempt to use the wisdom of crowds to predict the end of the Coronavirus crisis. I hope we can become hopeful and enjoy a bit of optimism that this crisis will pass and we will return to normal life in just a few more months.

I wish you good health and the courage to deal with this temporary intrusion into our lives.

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