skip to main content

Attention:

The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Friday, May 17 until 8:00 AM ET on Saturday, May 18 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Title: A versatile web app for identifying the drivers of COVID-19 epidemics
Abstract Background

No versatile web app exists that allows epidemiologists and managers around the world to comprehensively analyze the impacts of COVID-19 mitigation. Thehttp://covid-webapp.numerusinc.com/web app presented here fills this gap.

Methods

Our web app uses a model that explicitly identifies susceptible, contact, latent, asymptomatic, symptomatic and recovered classes of individuals, and a parallel set of response classes, subject to lower pathogen-contact rates. The user inputs a CSV file of incidence and, if of interest, mortality rate data. A default set of parameters is available that can be overwritten through input or online entry, and a user-selected subset of these can be fitted to the model using maximum-likelihood estimation (MLE). Model fitting and forecasting intervals are specifiable and changes to parameters allow counterfactual and forecasting scenarios. Confidence or credible intervals can be generated using stochastic simulations, based on MLE values, or on an inputted CSV file containing Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) estimates of one or more parameters.

Results

We illustrate the use of our web app in extracting social distancing, social relaxation, surveillance or virulence switching functions (i.e., time varying drivers) from the incidence and mortality rates of COVID-19 epidemics in Israel, South Africa, and England. The Israeli outbreak exhibits four distinct phases: initial outbreak, social distancing, social relaxation, and a second wave mitigation phase. An MCMC projection of this latter phase suggests the Israeli epidemic will continue to produce into late November an average of around 1500 new case per day, unless the population practices social-relaxation measures at least 5-fold below the level in August, which itself is 4-fold below the level at the start of July. Our analysis of the relatively late South African outbreak that became the world’s fifth largest COVID-19 epidemic in July revealed that the decline through late July and early August was characterised by a social distancing driver operating at more than twice the per-capita applicable-disease-class (pc-adc) rate of the social relaxation driver. Our analysis of the relatively early English outbreak, identified a more than 2-fold improvement in surveillance over the course of the epidemic. It also identified a pc-adc social distancing rate in early August that, though nearly four times the pc-adc social relaxation rate, appeared to barely contain a second wave that would break out if social distancing was further relaxed.

Conclusion

Our web app provides policy makers and health officers who have no epidemiological modelling or computer coding expertise with an invaluable tool for assessing the impacts of different outbreak mitigation policies and measures. This includes an ability to generate an epidemic-suppression or curve-flattening index that measures the intensity with which behavioural responses suppress or flatten the epidemic curve in the region under consideration.

 
more » « less
Award ID(s):
2032264
NSF-PAR ID:
10386985
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Springer Science + Business Media
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Translational Medicine
Volume:
19
Issue:
1
ISSN:
1479-5876
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Adrish, Muhammad (Ed.)
    Mexico has experienced one of the highest COVID-19 mortality rates in the world. A delayed implementation of social distancing interventions in late March 2020 and a phased reopening of the country in June 2020 has facilitated sustained disease transmission in the region. In this study we systematically generate and compare 30-day ahead forecasts using previously validated growth models based on mortality trends from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation for Mexico and Mexico City in near real-time. Moreover, we estimate reproduction numbers for SARS-CoV-2 based on the methods that rely on genomic data as well as case incidence data. Subsequently, functional data analysis techniques are utilized to analyze the shapes of COVID-19 growth rate curves at the state level to characterize the spatiotemporal transmission patterns of SARS-CoV-2. The early estimates of the reproduction number for Mexico were estimated between R t ~1.1–1.3 from the genomic and case incidence data. Moreover, the mean estimate of R t has fluctuated around ~1.0 from late July till end of September 2020. The spatial analysis characterizes the state-level dynamics of COVID-19 into four groups with distinct epidemic trajectories based on epidemic growth rates. Our results show that the sequential mortality forecasts from the GLM and Richards model predict a downward trend in the number of deaths for all thirteen forecast periods for Mexico and Mexico City. However, the sub-epidemic and IHME models perform better predicting a more realistic stable trajectory of COVID-19 mortality trends for the last three forecast periods (09/21-10/21, 09/28-10/27, 09/28-10/27) for Mexico and Mexico City. Our findings indicate that phenomenological models are useful tools for short-term epidemic forecasting albeit forecasts need to be interpreted with caution given the dynamic implementation and lifting of social distancing measures. 
    more » « less
  2. Background:

    Short-term forecasts of infectious disease burden can contribute to situational awareness and aid capacity planning. Based on best practice in other fields and recent insights in infectious disease epidemiology, one can maximise the predictive performance of such forecasts if multiple models are combined into an ensemble. Here, we report on the performance of ensembles in predicting COVID-19 cases and deaths across Europe between 08 March 2021 and 07 March 2022.

    Methods:

    We used open-source tools to develop a public European COVID-19 Forecast Hub. We invited groups globally to contribute weekly forecasts for COVID-19 cases and deaths reported by a standardised source for 32 countries over the next 1–4 weeks. Teams submitted forecasts from March 2021 using standardised quantiles of the predictive distribution. Each week we created an ensemble forecast, where each predictive quantile was calculated as the equally-weighted average (initially the mean and then from 26th July the median) of all individual models’ predictive quantiles. We measured the performance of each model using the relative Weighted Interval Score (WIS), comparing models’ forecast accuracy relative to all other models. We retrospectively explored alternative methods for ensemble forecasts, including weighted averages based on models’ past predictive performance.

    Results:

    Over 52 weeks, we collected forecasts from 48 unique models. We evaluated 29 models’ forecast scores in comparison to the ensemble model. We found a weekly ensemble had a consistently strong performance across countries over time. Across all horizons and locations, the ensemble performed better on relative WIS than 83% of participating models’ forecasts of incident cases (with a total N=886 predictions from 23 unique models), and 91% of participating models’ forecasts of deaths (N=763 predictions from 20 models). Across a 1–4 week time horizon, ensemble performance declined with longer forecast periods when forecasting cases, but remained stable over 4 weeks for incident death forecasts. In every forecast across 32 countries, the ensemble outperformed most contributing models when forecasting either cases or deaths, frequently outperforming all of its individual component models. Among several choices of ensemble methods we found that the most influential and best choice was to use a median average of models instead of using the mean, regardless of methods of weighting component forecast models.

    Conclusions:

    Our results support the use of combining forecasts from individual models into an ensemble in order to improve predictive performance across epidemiological targets and populations during infectious disease epidemics. Our findings further suggest that median ensemble methods yield better predictive performance more than ones based on means. Our findings also highlight that forecast consumers should place more weight on incident death forecasts than incident case forecasts at forecast horizons greater than 2 weeks.

    Funding:

    AA, BH, BL, LWa, MMa, PP, SV funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH) Grant 1R01GM109718, NSF BIG DATA Grant IIS-1633028, NSF Grant No.: OAC-1916805, NSF Expeditions in Computing Grant CCF-1918656, CCF-1917819, NSF RAPID CNS-2028004, NSF RAPID OAC-2027541, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 75D30119C05935, a grant from Google, University of Virginia Strategic Investment Fund award number SIF160, Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) under Contract No. HDTRA1-19-D-0007, and respectively Virginia Dept of Health Grant VDH-21-501-0141, VDH-21-501-0143, VDH-21-501-0147, VDH-21-501-0145, VDH-21-501-0146, VDH-21-501-0142, VDH-21-501-0148. AF, AMa, GL funded by SMIGE - Modelli statistici inferenziali per governare l'epidemia, FISR 2020-Covid-19 I Fase, FISR2020IP-00156, Codice Progetto: PRJ-0695. AM, BK, FD, FR, JK, JN, JZ, KN, MG, MR, MS, RB funded by Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Poland with grant 28/WFSN/2021 to the University of Warsaw. BRe, CPe, JLAz funded by Ministerio de Sanidad/ISCIII. BT, PG funded by PERISCOPE European H2020 project, contract number 101016233. CP, DL, EA, MC, SA funded by European Commission - Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology through the contract LC-01485746, and Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovacion y Universidades and FEDER, with the project PGC2018-095456-B-I00. DE., MGu funded by Spanish Ministry of Health / REACT-UE (FEDER). DO, GF, IMi, LC funded by Laboratory Directed Research and Development program of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) under project number 20200700ER. DS, ELR, GG, NGR, NW, YW funded by National Institutes of General Medical Sciences (R35GM119582; the content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NIGMS or the National Institutes of Health). FB, FP funded by InPresa, Lombardy Region, Italy. HG, KS funded by European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. IV funded by Agencia de Qualitat i Avaluacio Sanitaries de Catalunya (AQuAS) through contract 2021-021OE. JDe, SMo, VP funded by Netzwerk Universitatsmedizin (NUM) project egePan (01KX2021). JPB, SH, TH funded by Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF; grant 05M18SIA). KH, MSc, YKh funded by Project SaxoCOV, funded by the German Free State of Saxony. Presentation of data, model results and simulations also funded by the NFDI4Health Task Force COVID-19 (https://www.nfdi4health.de/task-force-covid-19-2) within the framework of a DFG-project (LO-342/17-1). LP, VE funded by Mathematical and Statistical modelling project (MUNI/A/1615/2020), Online platform for real-time monitoring, analysis and management of epidemic situations (MUNI/11/02202001/2020); VE also supported by RECETOX research infrastructure (Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic: LM2018121), the CETOCOEN EXCELLENCE (CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/17-043/0009632), RECETOX RI project (CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16-013/0001761). NIB funded by Health Protection Research Unit (grant code NIHR200908). SAb, SF funded by Wellcome Trust (210758/Z/18/Z).

     
    more » « less
  3. Abstract Human mobility plays an important role in the dynamics of infectious disease spread. Evidence from the initial nationwide lockdowns for COVID− 19 indicates that restricting human mobility is an effective strategy to contain the spread. While a direct correlation was observed early on, it is not known how mobility impacted COVID− 19 infection growth rates once lockdowns are lifted, primarily due to modulation by other factors such as face masks, social distancing, and the non-linear patterns of both mobility and infection growth. This paper introduces a piece-wise approach to better explore the phase-wise association between state-level COVID− 19 incidence data and anonymized mobile phone data for various states in the United States. Prior literature analyzed the linear correlation between mobility and the number of cases during the early stages of the pandemic. However, it is important to capture the non-linear dynamics of case growth and mobility to be usable for both tracking and forecasting COVID− 19 infections, which is accomplished by the piece-wise approach. The associations between mobility and case growth rate varied widely for various phases of the epidemic curve when the stay-at-home orders were lifted. The mobility growth patterns had a strong positive association of 0.7 with the growth in the number of cases, with a lag of 5 to 7 weeks, for the fast-growth phase of the pandemic, for only 20 states that had a peak between July 1st and September 30, 2020. Overall though, mobility cannot be used to predict the rise in the number of cases after initial lockdowns have been lifted. Our analysis explores the gradual diminishing value of mobility associations in the later stage of the outbreak. Our analysis indicates that the relationship between mobility and the increase in the number of cases, once lockdowns have been lifted, is tenuous at best and there is no strong relationship between these signals. But we identify the remnants of the last associations in specific phases of the growth curve. 
    more » « less
  4. null (Ed.)
    This work quanti es mobility changes observed during the di erent phases of the pandemic world-wide at multiple resolutions { county, state, country { using an anonymized aggregate mobility map that captures population ows between geographic cells of size 5 km2. As we overlay the global mobility map with epidemic incidence curves and dates of government interventions, we observe that as case counts rose, mobility fell and has since then seen a slow but steady increase in ows. Further, in order to understand mixing within a region, we propose a new metric to quantify the e ect of social distancing on the basis of mobility.Taking two very di erent countries sampled from the global spectrum, We analyze in detail the mobility patterns of the United States (US) and India. We then carry out a counterfactual analysis of delaying the lockdown and show that a one week delay would have doubled the reported number of cases in the US and India. Finally, we quantify the e ect of college students returning back to school for the fall semester on COVID-19 dynamics in the surrounding community. We employ the data from a recent university outbreak (reported on August 16, 2020) to infer possible Re values and mobility ows combined with daily prevalence data and census data to obtain an estimate of new cases that might arrive on a college campus. We nd that maintaining social distancing at existing levels would be e ective in mitigating the extra seeding of cases. However, potential behavioral change and increased social interaction amongst students (30% increase in Re ) along with extra seeding can increase the number of cases by 20% over a period of one month in the encompassing county. To our knowledge, this work is the rst to model in near real-time, the interplay of human mobility, epidemic dynamics and public policies across multiple spatial resolutions and at a global scale. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Since the first case of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was confirmed in Wuhan, China, social distancing has been promoted worldwide, including in the United States, as a major community mitigation strategy. However, our understanding remains limited in how people would react to such control measures, as well as how people would resume their normal behaviours when those orders were relaxed. We utilize an integrated dataset of real-time mobile device location data involving 100 million devices in the contiguous United States (plus Alaska and Hawaii) from February 2, 2020 to May 30, 2020. Built upon the common human mobility metrics, we construct a Social Distancing Index (SDI) to evaluate people’s mobility pattern changes along with the spread of COVID-19 at different geographic levels. We find that both government orders and local outbreak severity significantly contribute to the strength of social distancing. As people tend to practice less social distancing immediately after they observe a sign of local mitigation, we identify several states and counties with higher risks of continuous community transmission and a second outbreak. Our proposed index could help policymakers and researchers monitor people’s real-time mobility behaviours, understand the influence of government orders, and evaluate the risk of local outbreaks.

     
    more » « less