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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2022
  2. The Mumbai Suburban Railways, locals, are a key transit infrastructure of the city and is crucial for resuming normal economic activity. Due to high density during transit, the potential risk of disease transmission is high, and the government has taken a wait and see approach to resume normal operations. To reduce disease transmission, policymakers can enforce reduced crowding and mandate wearing of masks. Cohorting – forming groups of travelers that always travel together, is an additional policy to reduce disease transmission on locals without severe restrictions. Cohorting allows us to: (𝑖) form traveler bubbles, thereby decreasing the number of distinctmore »interactions over time; (𝑖𝑖) potentially quarantine an entire cohort if a single case is detected, making contact tracing more efficient, and (𝑖𝑖𝑖) target cohorts for testing and early detection of symptomatic as well as asymptomatic cases. Studying impact of cohorts using compartmental models is challenging because of the ensuing representational complexity. Agent-based models provide a natural way to represent cohorts along with the representation of the cohort members with the larger social network. This paper describes a novel multi-scale agent-based model to study the impact of cohorting strategies on COVID-19 dynamics in Mumbai. We achieve this by modeling the Mumbai urban region using a detailed agent-based model comprising of 12.4 million agents. Individual cohorts and their inter-cohort interactions as they travel on locals are modeled using local mean field approximations. The resulting multi-scale model in conjunction with a detailed disease transmission and intervention simulator is used to assess various cohorting strategies. The results provide a quantitative trade-off between cohort size and its impact on disease dynamics and well being. The results show that cohorts can provide significant benefit in terms of reduced transmission without significantly impacting ridership and or economic & social activity.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 3, 2022
  3. The COVID-19 pandemic represents the most significant public health disaster since the 1918 influenza pandemic. During pandemics such as COVID-19, timely and reliable spatiotemporal forecasting of epidemic dynamics is crucial. Deep learning-based time series models for forecasting have recently gained popularity and have been successfully used for epidemic forecasting. Here we focus on the design and analysis of deep learning-based models for COVID-19 forecasting. We implement multiple recurrent neural network-based deep learning models and combine them using the stacking ensemble technique. In order to incorporate the effects of multiple factors in COVID-19 spread, we consider multiple sources such as COVID-19more »confirmed and death case count data and testing data for better predictions. To overcome the sparsity of training data and to address the dynamic correlation of the disease, we propose clustering-based training for high-resolution forecasting. The methods help us to identify the similar trends of certain groups of regions due to various spatio-temporal effects. We examine the proposed method for forecasting weekly COVID-19 new confirmed cases at county-, state-, and country-level. A comprehensive comparison between different time series models in COVID-19 context is conducted and analyzed. The results show that simple deep learning models can achieve comparable or better performance when compared with more complicated models. We are currently integrating our methods as a part of our weekly forecasts that we provide state and federal authorities.« less
  4. We study allocation of COVID-19 vaccines to individuals based on the structural properties of their underlying social contact network. Even optimistic estimates suggest that most countries will likely take 6 to 24 months to vaccinate their citizens. These time estimates and the emergence of new viral strains urge us to find quick and effective ways to allocate the vaccines and contain the pandemic. While current approaches use combinations of age-based and occupation-based prioritizations, our strategy marks a departure from such largely aggregate vaccine allocation strategies. We propose a novel agent-based modeling approach motivated by recent advances in (i) science ofmore »real-world networks that point to efficacy of certain vaccination strategies and (ii) digital technologies that improve our ability to estimate some of these structural properties. Using a realistic representation of a social contact network for the Commonwealth of Virginia, combined with accurate surveillance data on spatio-temporal cases and currently accepted models of within- and between-host disease dynamics, we study how a limited number of vaccine doses can be strategically distributed to individuals to reduce the overall burden of the pandemic. We show that allocation of vaccines based on individuals' degree (number of social contacts) and total social proximity time is signi ficantly more effective than the currently used age-based allocation strategy in terms of number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths. Our results suggest that in just two months, by March 31, 2021, compared to age-based allocation, the proposed degree-based strategy can result in reducing an additional 56{110k infections, 3.2{5.4k hospitalizations, and 700{900 deaths just in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Extrapolating these results for the entire US, this strategy can lead to 3{6 million fewer infections, 181{306k fewer hospitalizations, and 51{62k fewer deaths compared to age-based allocation. The overall strategy is robust even: (i) if the social contacts are not estimated correctly; (ii) if the vaccine efficacy is lower than expected or only a single dose is given; (iii) if there is a delay in vaccine production and deployment; and (iv) whether or not non-pharmaceutical interventions continue as vaccines are deployed. For reasons of implementability, we have used degree, which is a simple structural measure and can be easily estimated using several methods, including the digital technology available today. These results are signi ficant, especially for resource-poor countries, where vaccines are less available, have lower efficacy, and are more slowly distributed.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 15, 2022
  5. This research measures the epidemiological and economic impact of COVID-19 spread in the US under different mitigation scenarios, comprising of non-pharmaceutical interventions. A detailed disease model of COVID-19 is combined with a model of the US economy to estimate the direct impact of labor supply shock to each sector arising from morbidity, mortality, and lockdown, as well as the indirect impact caused by the interdependencies between sectors. During a lockdown, estimates of jobs that are workable from home in each sector are used to modify the shock to labor supply. Results show trade-o s between economic losses, and lives savedmore »and infections averted are non-linear in compliance to social distancing and the duration of lockdown. Sectors that are worst hit are not the labor-intensive sectors such as Agriculture and Construction, but the ones with high valued jobs such as Professional Services, even after the teleworkability of jobs is accounted for. Additionally, the findings show that a low compliance to interventions can be overcome by a longer shutdown period and vice versa to arrive at similar epidemiological impact but their net effect on economic loss depends on the interplay between the marginal gains from averting infections and deaths, versus the marginal loss from having healthy workers stay at home during the shutdown.« less
  6. Disease dynamics, human mobility, and public policies co-evolve during a pandemic such as COVID-19. Understanding dynamic human mobility changes and spatial interaction patterns are crucial for understanding and forecasting COVID- 19 dynamics. We introduce a novel graph-based neural network(GNN) to incorporate global aggregated mobility flows for a better understanding of the impact of human mobility on COVID-19 dynamics as well as better forecasting of disease dynamics. We propose a recurrent message passing graph neural network that embeds spatio-temporal disease dynamics and human mobility dynamics for daily state-level new confirmed cases forecasting. This work represents one of the early papers onmore »the use of GNNs to forecast COVID-19 incidence dynamics and our methods are competitive to existing methods. We show that the spatial and temporal dynamic mobility graph leveraged by the graph neural network enables better long-term forecasting performance compared to baselines.« less