Metaculus and VDH Launch the Keep Virginia Safe Forecasting Initiative

Reputation-Based Community Forecasting on the Trajectory of COVID-19 Cases, Vaccines, and Interventions to Support the Development of Science-Informed Policy

by Gaia Dempsey, CEO, Metaculus

Over a year into the SARS-CoV-2 global pandemic, the World Health Organization’s World Immunization Week this year holds special significance as over a dozen new COVID-19 vaccines have received government authorization and are being widely distributed in communities around the world.

At this crucial time for key decisions in public health policy, Metaculus and the Virginia Department of Health are partnering to launch a new initiative, the Keep Virginia Safe Forecasting Tournament, which will be hosted within a Metaculus Forecasting Cause initiative focused on Healthy Communities.

The Virginia Department of Health is the government agency mandated to safeguard the health of the Commonwealth, and its mission is to protect the health and promote the wellbeing of all people in Virginia.

Public health officials in Virginia are weighing key decisions that have to be made in preparation for the summer and fall. Some of the questions under consideration:

  • How will Memorial Day Weekend impact COVID-19 case counts in Virginia?
  • To what extent do curfews blunt surges in case numbers?
  • How many new cases and hospitalizations can we expect?
  • How will coronavirus variants appear in the population?
  • To what extent does closing schools reduce transmission?
  • How many school districts might participate in on-campus testing programs if they were available?
  • How much testing and genomic surveillance should be done in the state?

The Keep Virginia Safe Forecasting Tournament will attempt to directly address these key scientific and policy questions by aggregating knowledge from many experts and forecasters.

The tournament will unfold across three rounds, with a mix of calibration, long-term, and fortified essay questions in the following topics:

  • Epidemiological modeling and trajectory
  • The path to population immunity
  • The emergence and impact of COVID-19 variants of concern
  • Vaccine rollout timelines
  • Vaccine hesitancy
  • Effective mitigation of community transmission
  • Testing and contact tracing
  • The return to pre-pandemic behaviors

Round 1 is opening today. If you’d like to boost forecasts on these topics and the future of COVID-19 in Virginia, you can participate in a number of valuable ways:

  • Join the Keep Virginia Safe Forecasting Tournament and make forecasts! The starting prize pool for accurate forecasts is $1,000.
  • Share your expertise, brainstorm forecasting questions, and update the community with the latest research in the Discussion Forum.
  • Increase forecaster rewards by becoming a monthly Supporter.
  • Reach out to researchers and experts to enlist their help furthering this cause by generating new shared knowledge on the Metaculus platform.

Since March 2020, Metaculus has been providing forecasting and modeling resources to public health professionals and public policy experts as they have navigated critical decisions about COVID-19 interventions in communities around the world.

We welcome you to join the community, and learn more about the Keep Virginia Safe Forecasting Tournament, and Metaculus’s broader pandemic forecasting efforts.

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