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  1. Efficient contact tracing and isolation is an effective strategy to control epidemics. It was used effectively during the Ebola epidemic and successfully implemented in several parts of the world during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. An important consideration in contact tracing is the budget on the number of individuals asked to quarantine -- the budget is limited for socioeconomic reasons. In this paper, we present a Markov Decision Process (MDP) framework to formulate the problem of using contact tracing to reduce the size of an outbreak while asking a limited number of people to quarantine. We formulate each step of themore »MDP as a combinatorial problem, MinExposed, which we demonstrate is NP-Hard; as a result, we develop an LP-based approximation algorithm. Though this algorithm directly solves MinExposed, it is often impractical in the real world due to information constraints. To this end, we develop a greedy approach based on insights from the analysis of the previous algorithm, which we show is more interpretable. A key feature of the greedy algorithm is that it does not need complete information of the underlying social contact network. This makes the heuristic implementable in practice and is an important consideration. Finally, we carry out experiments on simulations of the MDP run on real-world networks, and show how the algorithms can help in bending the epidemic curve while limiting the number of isolated individuals. Our experimental results demonstrate that the greedy algorithm and its variants are especially effective, robust, and practical in a variety of realistic scenarios, such as when the contact graph and specific transmission probabilities are not known. All code can be found in our GitHub repository: this https URL.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 14, 2023
  2. The deployment of vaccines across the US provides significant defense against serious illness and death from COVID-19. Over 70% of vaccine-eligible Americans are at least partially vaccinated, but there are pockets of the population that are under-vaccinated, such as in rural areas and some demographic groups (e.g. age, race, ethnicity). These unvaccinated pockets are extremely susceptible to the Delta variant, exacerbating the healthcare crisis and increasing the risk of new variants. In this paper, we describe a data-driven model that provides real-time support to Virginia public health officials by recommending mobile vaccination site placement in order to target under-vaccinated populations.more »Our strategy uses fine-grained mobility data, along with US Census and vaccination uptake data, to identify locations that are most likely to be visited by unvaccinated individuals. We further extend our model to choose locations that maximize vaccine uptake among hesitant groups. We show that the top recommended sites vary substantially across some demographics, demonstrating the value of developing customized recommendation models that integrate fine-grained, heterogeneous data sources. In addition, we used a statistically equivalent Synthetic Population to study the effect of combined demographics (eg, people of a particular race and age), which is not possible using US Census data alone. We validate our recommendations by analyzing the success rates of deployed vaccine sites, and show that sites placed closer to our recommended areas administered higher numbers of doses. Our model is the first of its kind to consider evolving mobility patterns in real-time for suggesting placement strategies customized for different targeted demographic groups. Our results will be presented at IAAI-22, but given the critical nature of the pandemic, we offer this extended version of that paper for more timely consideration of our approach and to cover additional findings.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 19, 2022
  3. We study the role of vaccine acceptance in controlling the spread of COVID-19 in the US using AI-driven agent-based models. Our study uses a 288 million node social contact network spanning all 50 US states plus Washington DC, comprised of 3300 counties, with 12.59 billion daily interactions. The highly-resolved agent-based models use realistic information about disease progression, vaccine uptake, production schedules, acceptance trends, prevalence, and social distancing guidelines. Developing a national model at this resolution that is driven by realistic data requires a complex scalable workflow, model calibration, simulation, and analytics components. Our workflow optimizes the total execution time andmore »helps in improving overall human productivity.This work develops a pipeline that can execute US-scale models and associated workflows that typically present significant big data challenges. Our results show that, when compared to faster and accelerating vaccinations, slower vaccination rates due to vaccine hesitancy cause averted infections to drop from 6.7M to 4.5M, and averted total deaths to drop from 39.4K to 28.2K nationwide. This occurs despite the fact that the final vaccine coverage is the same in both scenarios. Improving vaccine acceptance by 10% in all states increases averted infections from 4.5M to 4.7M (a 4.4% improvement) and total deaths from 28.2K to 29.9K (a 6% increase) nationwide. The analysis also reveals interesting spatio-temporal differences in COVID-19 dynamics as a result of vaccine acceptance. To our knowledge, this is the first national-scale analysis of the effect of vaccine acceptance on the spread of COVID-19, using detailed and realistic agent-based models.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 15, 2022
  4. 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
  5. Abstract We define a bridge node to be a node whose neighbor nodes are sparsely connected to each other and are likely to be part of different components if the node is removed from the network. We propose a computationally light neighborhood-based bridge node centrality (NBNC) tuple that could be used to identify the bridge nodes of a network as well as rank the nodes in a network on the basis of their topological position to function as bridge nodes. The NBNC tuple for a node is asynchronously computed on the basis of the neighborhood graph of the node thatmore »comprises of the neighbors of the node as vertices and the links connecting the neighbors as edges. The NBNC tuple for a node has three entries: the number of components in the neighborhood graph of the node, the algebraic connectivity ratio of the neighborhood graph of the node and the number of neighbors of the node. We analyze a suite of 60 complex real-world networks and evaluate the computational lightness, effectiveness, efficiency/accuracy and uniqueness of the NBNC tuple vis-a-vis the existing bridgeness related centrality metrics and the Louvain community detection algorithm.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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