Why It’s So Hard to Predict Where the Pandemic Is Headed Next

Human behavior has changed along with the virus and public health measures to contain it. For modelers, it’s a curveball.

Among the professional hazards faced by Carl Bergstrom, a professor of biology at the University of Washington, is that he is often asked where the Covid-19 pandemic is heading. The question comes in many variations—what next week will be like, or the next school year, or the next winter—and has so for as long as the virus has been with us. But recently it has gained a certain fervor. Bergstrom works at the intersection of two relevant subjects: how sentient beings like ourselves act on information, and how biological phenomena

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