In August 2014, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) loudly publicized the prediction of one of its most famous disease modelers, Martin Meltzer, that there could be 500,000 to 1.4 million new Ebola cases in western Africa over the next few months if the world did not immediately step in to assist.
The prediction was admittedly a worst-case scenario. Even so, it was off by an astonishing 65 times. By January, there had only been 21,000 new cases.
The shocking inaccuracy of the much-publicized prediction is causing some health experts to turn scrutiny on the CDC’s disease prediction models and question whether they are more political than scientific. Questions are also arising as to whether they do more harm than good.