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This week, we feature Superforecasters’ projections about when the FDA will approve a drug or biological product as a safe and effective treatment for COVID (not just for emergency or compassionate use). We also expand our coverage with two new questions about the pace at which Europe is reopening for business.
Check back often – we update our probability forecasts daily at 7am EDT, refresh commentary periodically to illustrate forecasters’ thoughts about new data, and launch new questions weekly.
A Superforecaster® comments:
There are four programs to speed up FDA approval …. In all four lanes the fastest approvals were processed in ~150 days after applications (post trials) were submitted.
One Superforecaster’s take on this question:
“3 years until 100% recovery, but 90% recovery will come sooner than most people think” is a good base rate. I do not buy that technology will replace business travel or that American/European leisure travel will collapse. 8 months from now to get close to normal, though? We are really still in the “9/11 event,” far more people are dying, the broader economic downturn is more severe, and terrorist hijackings, though more common, had an easier fix than viruses. Plus we don’t know what the impact of Brexit will be entirely independent of the virus.
A Superforecaster observes:
Angela Merkel will be cautious in her decision on whether to allow fans to return…. She has warned of a second wave in the fall and prudently wants to avoid a resurgence that would undo the gains already made. Everything about her pandemic leadership suggests that the overriding factor in her decision will be the public health situation and not money or politics.
A Superforecaster notes:
Perhaps the biggest hurdles to overcome will be a crisis of consumer confidence and the health of small businesses, where nearly half of all Americans are employed. If a critical mass of these fail, the unemployment rate will remain high and the economy will be much slower to recover.
A Superforecaster comment reflecting increased pessimism in unemployment forecasts:
While most unemployed workers expect to return to their jobs within six months, a recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research estimates that 42% of coronavirus-related layoffs will become permanent.
Bias has to be towards positive returns in the market. Even if there’s another dramatic drop in 2020, the market will reflect 2022 expectations by the time this question resolves.
Forecasts are trending toward higher prices, as one Superforecaster explains:
Demand is going up. Production is dropping. There remains a supply glut and a lack of storage, but most variables are moving in the direction of higher prices 12 months from now (though a temporary big drop in Q3 or Q4 this year remains quite possible given the storage-apocalypse scenario).
The prospects for the nation’s professional sports leagues to resume operations were boosted Monday [May 18th] when the governors of California, New York and Texas announced their support of pro sports returning in their states.
Point/counterpoint from two Superforecasters:
Pessimistic view: September remains doubtful. The first wave isn’t finished, let alone the second wave. A vaccine won’t be available until 2021, and now we have the Kawasaki disease, which is a specific risk for children.
[Relatively] optimistic view: Several countries have reopened schools with no noticeable increase in cases. I suspect NY is watching the data carefully.
The employment and other money generating aspects of the CA university system is going to put a lot of pressure on to open at the soonest possible time.
The question is how long it will take for Disney to work out the logistics for the Magic Kingdom. I expect that Disney Shanghai results will strongly inform the implementation. Because all this will still take time, I believe an opening before 1 July is a much lower probability than after.
There are some steps you can skip if you rush, but you simply can’t be sure there aren’t long-term adverse effects without trials that take a long time. So a vaccine that’s rolled out before [October 2021] at the earliest will fundamentally be risky.
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