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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  2. Flegg, Jennifer A. (Ed.)
    Stay-at-home orders and shutdowns of non-essential businesses are powerful, but socially costly, tools to control the pandemic spread of SARS-CoV-2. Mass testing strategies, which rely on widely administered frequent and rapid diagnostics to identify and isolate infected individuals, could be a potentially less disruptive management strategy, particularly where vaccine access is limited. In this paper, we assess the extent to which mass testing and isolation strategies can reduce reliance on socially costly non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as distancing and shutdowns. We develop a multi-compartmental model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission incorporating both preventative non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) and testing and isolation to evaluate theirmore »combined effect on public health outcomes. Our model is designed to be a policy-guiding tool that captures important realities of the testing system, including constraints on test administration and non-random testing allocation. We show how strategic changes in the characteristics of the testing system, including test administration, test delays, and test sensitivity, can reduce reliance on preventative NPIs without compromising public health outcomes in the future. The lowest NPI levels are possible only when many tests are administered and test delays are short, given limited immunity in the population. Reducing reliance on NPIs is highly dependent on the ability of a testing program to identify and isolate unreported, asymptomatic infections. Changes in NPIs, including the intensity of lockdowns and stay at home orders, should be coordinated with increases in testing to ensure epidemic control; otherwise small additional lifting of these NPIs can lead to dramatic increases in infections, hospitalizations and deaths. Importantly, our results can be used to guide ramp-up of testing capacity in outbreak settings, allow for the flexible design of combined interventions based on social context, and inform future cost-benefit analyses to identify efficient pandemic management strategies.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 28, 2022
  3. In Spring 2021, the highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant began to cause increases in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in parts of the United States. At the time, with slowed vaccination uptake, this novel variant was expected to increase the risk of pandemic resurgence in the US in summer and fall 2021. As part of the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub, an ensemble of nine mechanistic models produced 6-month scenario projections for July–December 2021 for the United States. These projections estimated substantial resurgences of COVID-19 across the US resulting from the more transmissible Delta variant, projected to occur across most of themore »US, coinciding with school and business reopening. The scenarios revealed that reaching higher vaccine coverage in July–December 2021 reduced the size and duration of the projected resurgence substantially, with the expected impacts was largely concentrated in a subset of states with lower vaccination coverage. Despite accurate projection of COVID-19 surges occurring and timing, the magnitude was substantially underestimated 2021 by the models compared with the of the reported cases, hospitalizations, and deaths occurring during July–December, highlighting the continued challenges to predict the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccination uptake remains critical to limiting transmission and disease, particularly in states with lower vaccination coverage. Higher vaccination goals at the onset of the surge of the new variant were estimated to avert over 1.5 million cases and 21,000 deaths, although may have had even greater impacts, considering the underestimated resurgence magnitude from the model.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 21, 2023
  4. More than 1.6 million Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) tests were administered daily in the United States at the peak of the epidemic, with a significant focus on individual treatment. Here, we show that objective-driven, strategic sampling designs and analyses can maximize information gain at the population level, which is necessary to increase situational awareness and predict, prepare for, and respond to a pandemic, while also continuing to inform individual treatment. By focusing on specific objectives such as individual treatment or disease prediction and control (e.g., via the collection of population-level statistics to inform lockdown measures or vaccinemore »rollout) and drawing from the literature on capture–recapture methods to deal with nonrandom sampling and testing errors, we illustrate how public health objectives can be achieved even with limited test availability when testing programs are designed a priori to meet those objectives.« less
  5. null (Ed.)