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College of Science Lecture Series
Utilizing Math Models to Understand Infectious Disease

Researchers have used mathematical modeling to characterize and understand both localized outbreaks of measles and the current Covid-19 pandemic. Two important notions in mathematical epidemiology are the basic reproductive number of a disease and the disease-free equilibrium. With a basic reproduction number between 12 and 18, measles is a highly infectious disease that quickly spreads throughout a population once introduced. However, the lifelong immunity developed by those who recover from measles as well as the development of modern vaccinations give hope to the idea that modern measles outbreaks will inevitably reach a disease-free equilibrium. I will present a model of measles and a model developed for COVID-19 using a system of ordinary differential equations following the natural history of the infection. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a new coronavirus that has spread from person-to-person and has spread throughout the world. COVID-19 symptoms can range from mild (or no symptoms) to severe illness. The model uniquely incorporates the behavior of susceptibles and symptomatic individuals. The results show the possibility of multiple waves and the importance of incentivizing self-isolation as a means to reduce disease transmission. Additional discussion of the disproportionate burden of coronavirus on traditionally underserved groups will be shared as a call to action to study this current pandemic.

May 12, 2021 04:00 PM in Pacific Time (US and Canada)

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