As the number of people who have contracted coronavirus increases, several groups at universities in the US and Europe have rolled out predictions over the last few days about where and how the disease, which epidemiologists have now dubbed nCoV19, will spread next. 

Some predictions focus on ranking the countries and Chinese provinces most at risk of seeing new cases (an analysis led by Northeastern University group puts the US fifth). Others have tried to estimate what the final tally will be—an estimate from the UK’s Lancaster Medical School says the caseload in Wuhan could reach above 190,000 people within two weeks. 

Mapping out the future of an epidemic is invaluable for officials scrambling to implement travel restrictions and allocate health care resources. But it requires a mountain of data. You need to know airline traffic patterns and keep up with shifting travel bans. You need to stay on top of virologists’ rapidly-evolving understanding of disease transmission. And you need to know where new cases are cropping up—no small feat for an outbreak of this size.

With all that in hand, you can design a computer model to calculate the probability that the virus will spread in a given time along any number of possible routes. 

Read the entire article at Quartz. David Pigott, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Global Health, is quoted.