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  1. Abstract The rapid rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine raises the question of whether and when the ongoing pandemic could be eliminated with vaccination and non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs). Despite advances in the impact of NPIs and the conceptual belief that NPIs and vaccination control COVID-19 infections, we lack evidence to employ control theory in real-world social human dynamics in the context of disease spreading. We bridge the gap by developing a new analytical framework that treats COVID-19 as a feedback control system with the NPIs and vaccination as the controllers and a computational model that maps human social behaviors into input signals. This approach enables us to effectively predict the epidemic spreading in 381 Metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the US by learning our model parameters utilizing the time series NPIs (i.e., the stay-at-home order, face-mask wearing, and testing) data. This model allows us to optimally identify three NPIs to predict infections accurately in 381 MSAs and avoid over-fitting. Our numerical results demonstrate our approach’s excellent predictive power with R 2  > 0.9 for all the MSAs regardless of their sizes, locations, and demographic status. Our methodology allows us to estimate the needed vaccine coverage and NPIs for achieving R e to a manageable level and how the variants of concern diminish the likelihood for disease elimination at each location. Our analytical results provide insights into the debates surrounding the elimination of COVID-19. NPIs, if tailored to the MSAs, can drive the pandemic to an easily containable level and suppress future recurrences of epidemic cycles. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  2. Abstract

    Despite a number of successful approaches in predicting the spatiotemporal patterns of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and quantifying the effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions starting from data about the initial outbreak location, we lack an intrinsic understanding as outbreak locations shift and evolve. Here, we fill this gap by developing a country distance approach to capture the pandemic’s propagation backbone tree from a complex airline network with multiple and evolving outbreak locations. We apply this approach, which is analogous to the effective resistance in series and parallel circuits, to examine countries’ closeness regarding disease spreading and evaluate the effectiveness of travel restrictions on delaying infections. In particular, we find that 63.2% of travel restrictions implemented as of 1 June 2020 are ineffective. The remaining percentage postponed the disease arrival time by 18.56 days per geographical area and resulted in a total reduction of 13,186,045 infected cases. Our approach enables us to design optimized and coordinated travel restrictions to extend the delay in arrival time and further reduce more infected cases while preserving air travel.

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  3. Mobility restriction is a crucial measure to control the transmission of the COVID-19. Research has shown that effective distance measured by the number of travelers instead of physical distance can capture and predict the transmission of the deadly virus. However, these efforts have been limited mainly to a single source of disease. Also, they have not been tested on finer spatial scales. Based on prior work of effective distances on the country level, we propose the multiple-source effective distance, a metric that captures the distance for the virus to propagate through the mobility network on the county level in the U.S. Then, we estimate how the change in the number of sources impacts the global mobility rate. Based on the findings, a new method is proposed to locate sources and estimate the arrival time of the virus. The new metric outperforms the original single-source effective distance in predicting the arrival time. Last, we select two potential sources and quantify the arrival time delay caused by the national emergency declaration. In doing so, we provide quantitative answers on the effectiveness of the national emergency declaration.

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