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  1. Hill, Alison L. (Ed.)
    The structure of contact networks affects the likelihood of disease spread at the population scale and the risk of infection at any given node. Though this has been well characterized for both theoretical and empirical networks for the spread of epidemics on completely susceptible networks, the long-term impact of network structure on risk of infection with an endemic pathogen, where nodes can be infected more than once, has been less well characterized. Here, we analyze detailed records of the transportation of cattle among farms in Turkey to characterize the global and local attributes of the directed—weighted shipments network between 2007-2012. We then study the correlations between network properties and the likelihood of infection with, or exposure to, foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) over the same time period using recorded outbreaks. The shipments network shows a complex combination of features (local and global) that have not been previously reported in other networks of shipments; i.e. small-worldness, scale-freeness, modular structure, among others. We find that nodes that were either infected or at high risk of infection with FMD (within one link from an infected farm) had disproportionately higher degree, were more central (eigenvector centrality and coreness), and were more likely to be net recipients of shipments compared to those that were always more than 2 links away from an infected farm. High in-degree (i.e. many shipments received) was the best univariate predictor of infection. Low in-coreness (i.e. peripheral nodes) was the best univariate predictor of nodes always more than 2 links away from an infected farm. These results are robust across the three different serotypes of FMD observed in Turkey and during periods of low-endemic prevalence and high-prevalence outbreaks. 
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  2. Probabilistic predictions support public health planning and decision making, especially in infectious disease emergencies. Aggregating outputs from multiple models yields more robust predictions of outcomes and associated uncertainty. While the selection of an aggregation method can be guided by retrospective performance evaluations, this is not always possible. For example, if predictions are conditional on assumptions about how the future will unfold (e.g. possible interventions), these assumptions may never materialize, precluding any direct comparison between predictions and observations. Here, we summarize literature on aggregating probabilistic predictions, illustrate various methods for infectious disease predictions via simulation, and present a strategy for choosing an aggregation method when empirical validation cannot be used. We focus on the linear opinion pool (LOP) and Vincent average, common methods that make different assumptions about between-prediction uncertainty. We contend that assumptions of the aggregation method should align with a hypothesis about how uncertainty is expressed within and between predictions from different sources. The LOP assumes that between-prediction uncertainty is meaningful and should be retained, while the Vincent average assumes that between-prediction uncertainty is akin to sampling error and should not be preserved. We provide an R package for implementation. Given the rising importance of multi-model infectious disease hubs, our work provides useful guidance on aggregation and a deeper understanding of the benefits and risks of different approaches. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  3. Abstract Background

    The development of public health policy is inextricably linked with governance structure. In our increasingly globalized world, human migration and infectious diseases often span multiple administrative jurisdictions that might have different systems of government and divergent management objectives. However, few studies have considered how the allocation of regulatory authority among jurisdictions can affect disease management outcomes.


    Here we evaluate the relative merits of decentralized and centralized management by developing and numerically analyzing a two-jurisdictionSIRSmodel that explicitly incorporates migration. In our model, managers choose between vaccination, isolation, medication, border closure, and a travel ban on infected individuals while aiming to minimize either the number of cases or the number of deaths.


    We consider a variety of scenarios and show how optimal strategies differ for decentralized and centralized management levels. We demonstrate that policies formed in the best interest of individual jurisdictions may not achieve global objectives, and identify situations where locally applied interventions can lead to an overall increase in the numbers of cases and deaths.


    Our approach underscores the importance of tailoring disease management plans to existing regulatory structures as part of an evidence-based decision framework. Most importantly, we demonstrate that there needs to be a greater consideration of the degree to which governance structure impacts disease outcomes.

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  4. Abstract

    Our ability to forecast epidemics far into the future is constrained by the many complexities of disease systems. Realistic longer-term projections may, however, be possible under well-defined scenarios that specify the future state of critical epidemic drivers. Since December 2020, the U.S. COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub (SMH) has convened multiple modeling teams to make months ahead projections of SARS-CoV-2 burden, totaling nearly 1.8 million national and state-level projections. Here, we find SMH performance varied widely as a function of both scenario validity and model calibration. We show scenarios remained close to reality for 22 weeks on average before the arrival of unanticipated SARS-CoV-2 variants invalidated key assumptions. An ensemble of participating models that preserved variation between models (using the linear opinion pool method) was consistently more reliable than any single model in periods of valid scenario assumptions, while projection interval coverage was near target levels. SMH projections were used to guide pandemic response, illustrating the value of collaborative hubs for longer-term scenario projections.

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  5. 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 their 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. 
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  6. null (Ed.)
  7. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  8. null (Ed.)
    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 vaccine 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. 
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