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Covid predictions – how did we do?

Russell Hutchinson reviews his Covid-19 predictions to see how accurate there were.

Monday, August 1st 2022, 3:11PM

by Russell Hutchinson

On 29 July, Dr Ashley Bloomfield gave his last update on Covid-19 as Director General of Health, the number of deaths has hit 1,479 on the newly released basis counting only those deaths attributable to Covid.

Each death is a tragedy, and more are expected, but we can be glad that the totals are substantially lower than originally estimated. Recently, we revisited our pandemic predictions – modelled first in March 2020 - to see how we are tracking.

Back in March 2020, while the pandemic was still only beginning, we wrote that we believed the impact on life insurance would be low. While some of my other predictions about the pandemic were wrong, this one has been proven correct so far, and likely to remain so.

Originally deaths estimated using our worst-case scenarios were between 28,600 and 62,900. This compared with official modelling which put possible deaths at about 40,000 at the time.

So we were in a similar ball-park there, but we also modelled better case scenarios. Even back then we had one where expected deaths were in a range between 1,785 and 6,249.

Those remain shocking numbers because at the time of writing this article, it now looks like being the right scenario.

It was predicated on an early vaccine being found. We are fortunate that it was.

Good data shows that vaccination has saved millions of lives around the world – a good summary article on this can be found here.

Updating our modelling we see much more exposure and many more infections as Covid-19 spreads throughout the country. Thanks to vaccination we see the range of possible deaths has shrunk dramatically.

Our recalibrated worst-case now being about 5,200 deaths, a better case being around 1,700. At 1,479 and averaging something like 15 to 20 deaths per day, we look likely to exceed our best case.

Determining when to draw a ‘finish line’ for tracking the pandemic is a difficult decision, if we assume the end of next year and that from this point our death rate starts improving, then it will likely end up in about the top half of our range.

The industry has gone from worrying about a massive surge in life insurance claims to a series of long-covid claims under income protection. That’s a valid concern as some people appear to suffer the effects of covid for many months.

« Wellbeing programmes aren’t just good for your healthNeeds analysis focus: what data do you need? »

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