42. Will COVID kill at least 50% as many people in 2023 as it did in 2022?
resolved Jan 1

According to https://ourworldindata.org/covid-deaths

This is question #42 in the Astral Codex Ten 2023 Prediction Contest. The contest rules and full list of questions are available here. Market will resolve according to Scott Alexander’s judgment, as given through future posts on Astral Codex Ten.

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@oh NO

bought Ṁ100 of NO

Weekly average deaths (over last 4 weeks) down to ~4,400, so extrapolating rest of year brings total estimated 2023 deaths to ~362K. Death rate would have to climb 170% for rest of year to hit 50% of 2022.

bought Ṁ100 of NO

Last 28 days weekly average: 6,730 deaths. Deaths/week needed for this to be YES for remainder of year: 10,830, so 60% increase on rate of latest 4 weeks. As a wise man once said: “STOCK MARKET AT ALL-TIME HIGH! HOW ARE YOUR 409K’S DOING? 70%, 80%, 90% up? Only 50% up! What are you doing wrong?”

bought Ṁ300 of NO

As predicted below, the ingestion of WHO China data into OWID has adjusted upwards the maximum number of deaths possible for this to resolve NO (due to increasing 2023 China & World deaths), while slightly reducing the number of deaths attributed in 2023. For this to resolve YES, weekly deaths for the next 43 weeks will have to be 42% higher than the average of the prior 3 weeks. Again, I think this is unlikely without some relatively unlikely new strain, but just in case, it was easy enough to find some covid lockdown markets to partially hedge against something like that happening.

predicted NO

For the record, OWID currently has China deaths in for 2023, but those do not match WHO. If OWID ends up synching with WHO, it will actually pull this question towards NO because WHO has more deaths for China in 2022 and fewer in 2023 compared to OWID:



2022 40,189 683

2023 73,977 82,218

If this change is enacted, it will make NO resolution more likely.

2023 projected deaths using unadjusted OWID numbers: 544K (vs 606K max for NO)

2023 projected deaths using adjusted OWID numbers: 536K (vs 626K max for NO)

Seroprevalance based on infection in most of the world is at least >80% and is perhaps commonly >90%. When considering vaccination as well, it is likely >95%. I don't think it's likely without a drastically new strain for deaths to rise significantly in the current immunological environment. I also don't expect without a dangerous new strain for case & death reporting to do anything but decline in consistency as covid blends into the backdrop of other respiratory diseases.

Currently at ~170K deaths YTD and resolves yes (if my math is right) at ~605K for the full year. 170K annualized is 1.2M, but that includes the China dump. Current run-rate is 1,200/day, so that for rest of year + 170K is 550K. Looks NOish but not enough to bet given all of the uncertainties on data collection and reporting.

predicted YES

@AlQuinn For all my disagreement, I appreciate your data analysis very much!!

If I was resolving this you could slam the yes, because China, where the death peak was probably in January or at least late in December, and they’re going to be losing people for a long time. Without China, however, the stats suggest that unless there is a new variant we will come in with over a 50% decline, at least in terms of official numbers. This question is thus mostly about how Scott estimates what happens in China, rather than about what is likely to happen in the future. My guess is that 71% is a bit high, but the catch is that this resolves ambiguous pretty often when it depends on China and not when there are enough deaths elsewhere, which gives value to being on the YES side, so I’m going to say 70% seems reasonable here.

- Zvi Mowshowitz

bought Ṁ50 of YES

One word: China.

@BTE two words: unreliable data

predicted YES

@Pandurevich You’re right. But if anything they are way underreporting and they reported 60,000 new deaths today over the last 30 days.

@BTE I agree that they are most probably underreporting. Where did you get the 60k number tho? This graph doesn't show it https://ourworldindata.org/covid-deaths

predicted YES

@Pandurevich It will be there eventually. This was formally reported. https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2023/01/14/china/china-covid-deaths-intl/index.html

@BTE For this market, the most important info (which we don't have yet) is the distribution of these deaths between December 8 and January 12.