The science of modelling has never been more publicised than during the COVID-19 pandemic, as state and national populations pore daily over the numbers that seem to have the power over our future lives and movements.
But what happens when models disagree? Two highly publicised examples – the Doherty Institute’s Modelling Report for National Cabinet and that coauthored by a group of four scientists led by Zoe Hyde – have produced results which diverge on fatalities and infection rates for different levels of vaccine coverage.
Are they wrong? How does this happen? We spoke to Ivo Mueller, epidemiologist and joint head of Population Health and Immunity at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, to guide us through how the science works, what the possibilities and limitations are, and how to report results in a way that makes sense.
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Gail MacCallum is the Managing Editor of Cosmos Magazine.
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