The COVID-19 Forecast Hub serves as a central repository of forecasts and predictions from over 30 international research groups. Over 45m rows of forecast data are stored in a standard format in our data repository. This structured data and our accompanying interactive visualization make it easy to compare the models side-by-side. Having all the model output in one place helps decision-makers and the general public understand the range of possible future outcomes more clearly.

Background

The COVID-19 Forecat Hub was founded in March 2020 by the Reich Lab of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and has been supported since then by a small but dedicated group of faculty, post-docs, and students from UMass, Iowa State, Carnegie Mellon, and international research groups. The Reich Lab has worked closely with the US CDC on their FluSight seasonal influenza forecasting challenges since 2015. In September 2019, the Reich Lab was designated as one of two nationwide, CDC-funded Influenza Forecasting Centers of Excellence. Our team has worked closely with global, federal, state and local public health officials to integrate infectious disease forecasting into public health decision-making. Additionally, our group’s peer-reviewed and pre-publication research has provided crucial insights about the importance of ensemble modeling in forecasting outbreaks and the relative accuracy of a wide range of different forecast models.

Forecast Hub pipeline

Teams submit, for the county, state, and national level in the US, predictions of the numbers of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths in future days, weeks, and months. We encourage teams to submit at least one forecast every week (up to one a day is accepted) before a Monday 6pm deadline. After this deadline passes, we create an ensemble forecast that, similar to weather forecast models, combines multiple models into a single prediction and cone of uncertainty.

Every Tuesday morning, our latest ensemble forecast is available for browsing at our interactive visualization. Additionally, all model data are passed along to the US CDC, and individual forecasts from the teams, as well as the ensemble forecast, are used in official CDC communications about the trajectory of the COVID-19 outbreak. FiveThirtyEight also maintains a forecast tracker of a selection of individual models.