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  1. Abstract

    Human mobility is a primary driver of infectious disease spread. However, existing data is limited in availability, coverage, granularity, and timeliness. Data-driven forecasts of disease dynamics are crucial for decision-making by health officials and private citizens alike. In this work, we focus on a machine-learned anonymized mobility map (hereon referred to as AMM) aggregated over hundreds of millions of smartphones and evaluate its utility in forecasting epidemics. We factor AMM into a metapopulation model to retrospectively forecast influenza in the USA and Australia. We show that the AMM model performs on-par with those based on commuter surveys, which aremore »sparsely available and expensive. We also compare it with gravity and radiation based models of mobility, and find that the radiation model’s performance is quite similar to AMM and commuter flows. Additionally, we demonstrate our model’s ability to predict disease spread even across state boundaries. Our work contributes towards developing timely infectious disease forecasting at a global scale using human mobility datasets expanding their applications in the area of infectious disease epidemiology.

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  2. Abstract Infections produced by non-symptomatic (pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic) individuals have been identified as major drivers of COVID-19 transmission. Non-symptomatic individuals, unaware of the infection risk they pose to others, may perceive themselves—and be perceived by others—as not presenting a risk of infection. Yet, many epidemiological models currently in use do not include a behavioral component, and do not address the potential consequences of risk misperception. To study the impact of behavioral adaptations to the perceived infection risk, we use a mathematical model that incorporates the behavioral decisions of individuals, based on a projection of the system’s future state over amore »finite planning horizon. We found that individuals’ risk misperception in the presence of non-symptomatic individuals may increase or reduce the final epidemic size. Moreover, under behavioral response the impact of non-symptomatic infections is modulated by symptomatic individuals’ behavior. Finally, we found that there is an optimal planning horizon that minimizes the final epidemic size.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  3. Abstract Privacy protection is paramount in conducting health research. However, studies often rely on data stored in a centralized repository, where analysis is done with full access to the sensitive underlying content. Recent advances in federated learning enable building complex machine-learned models that are trained in a distributed fashion. These techniques facilitate the calculation of research study endpoints such that private data never leaves a given device or healthcare system. We show—on a diverse set of single and multi-site health studies—that federated models can achieve similar accuracy, precision, and generalizability, and lead to the same interpretation as standard centralized statisticalmore »models while achieving considerably stronger privacy protections and without significantly raising computational costs. This work is the first to apply modern and general federated learning methods that explicitly incorporate differential privacy to clinical and epidemiological research—across a spectrum of units of federation, model architectures, complexity of learning tasks and diseases. As a result, it enables health research participants to remain in control of their data and still contribute to advancing science—aspects that used to be at odds with each other.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  4. Tracking the COVID-19 pandemic has been a major challenge for policy makers. Although, several efforts are ongoing for accurate forecasting of cases, deaths, and hospitalization at various resolutions, few have been attempted for college campuses despite their potential to become COVID-19 hot-spots. In this paper, we present a real-time effort towards weekly forecasting of campus-level cases during the fall semester for four universities in Virginia, United States. We discuss the challenges related to data curation. A causal model is employed for forecasting with one free time-varying parameter, calibrated against case data. The model is then run forward in time tomore »obtain multiple forecasts. We retrospectively evaluate the performance and, while forecast quality suffers during the campus reopening phase, the model makes reasonable forecasts as the fall semester progresses. We provide sensitivity analysis for the several model parameters. In addition, the forecasts are provided weekly to various state and local agencies.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 6, 2022
  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2022
  6. High resolution mobility datasets have become increasingly available in the past few years and have enabled detailed models for infectious disease spread including those for COVID-19. However, there are open questions on how such a mobility data can be used effectively within epidemic models and for which tasks they are best suited. In this paper, we extract a number of graph-based proximity metrics from high resolution cellphone trace data from X-Mode and use it to study COVID-19 epidemic spread in 50 land grant university counties in the US. We present an approach to estimate the effect of mobility on casesmore »by fitting an ODE based model and performing multivariate linear regression to explain the estimated time varying transmissibility. We find that, while mobility plays a significant role, the contribution is heterogeneous across the counties, as exemplified by a subsequent correlation analysis. We subsequently evaluate the metrics’ utility for case surge prediction defined as a supervised classification problem, and show that the learnt model can predict surges with 95% accuracy and 87% F1-score.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 10, 2022
  7. Discrete dynamical systems serve as useful formal models to study diffusion phenomena in social networks. Motivated by applications in systems biology, several recent papers have studied algorithmic and complexity aspects of diffusion problems for dynamical systems whose underlying graphs are directed, and may contain directed cycles. Such problems can be regarded as reachability problems in the phase space of the corresponding dynamical system. We show that computational intractability results for reachability problems hold even for dynamical systems on directed acyclic graphs (dags). We also show that for dynamical systems on dags where each local function is monotone, the reachability problemmore »can be solved efficiently.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 18, 2022
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. Vaccination is the primary intervention for controlling the spread of infectious diseases. A certain level of vaccination rate (referred to as “herd immunity”) is needed for this intervention to be effective. However, there are concerns that herd immunity might not be achieved due to an increasing level of hesitancy and opposition to vaccines. One of the primary reasons for this is the cost of non-conformance with one’s peers. We use the framework of network coordination games to study the persistence of anti-vaccine sentiment in a population. We extend it to incorporate the opposing forces of the pressure of conforming tomore »peers, herd-immunity and vaccination benefits. We study the structure of the equilibria in such games, and the characteristics of unvaccinated nodes. We also study Stackelberg strategies to reduce the number of nodes with anti-vaccine sentiment. Finally, we evaluate our results on different kinds of real world social networks.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 9, 2022