The World Health Organization (WHO) has provided urgent countermeasures to monitor the spread of the virus in the midst of the latest global health danger from the novel coronavirus. Do you question how experts are gaining insights that lead to timely decisions about pandemic policies?

Mathematical modeling for understanding disease behavior

In maths, the solution lies. Mathematical functions may be used as instruments to explain the dynamics of how infectious diseases spread among individuals. Mathematical modeling produces an image or a ‘model’ of the disease behavior, which can be depicted visually by graphs, charts, and comparative tables. Epidemiologists, public health professionals, use them widely for risk evaluation or for the study of disease control or preventive action approaches. Perspectives from models promote protocols for disease prevention, such as drives for mass vaccination, treatment strategies, and precautionary measures. Mathematical models have also been influential in improving public health care. Governments, health agencies, scientists and hospitals are highly dependent on models to cope with the flood of medical problems that occur.

The SIR model

One of these models include the SIR model. In the 1920s, Kermack and McKendrick created their classic SIR (Susceptible-Infected-Recovered) model which could measure the spread of disease. Individuals fall into each of the three ‘compartments’-Susceptible, Infected, or Recovered in the basic SIR model. The equations that explain to them suggest that the infected individual will communicate with the vulnerable, infect them and also turn them into infected. The Susceptible decline as the Infected increase. Individuals that are infected will also recover and are then moved to the Recovered container. Then, these calculations can be solved to explain how the number of people infected varies over time. Often, the basic model is adopted with additional categories. For instance, a person infected who shows no symptoms may form a new category. External considerations such as age are often also to be taken into account.

In the case of this coronavirus outbreak, these systematic methods for estimating the variables and parameters involved in an epidemic have proven invaluable to formulate pandemic policies. Several models have been developed which reveal the pathogen’s transmissibility and destructive patterns. These models can determine the number of cases predicted and how rapidly the disease could spread, as well as help estimate measures of quarantining and social distancing. It assists health care budgeting medical supplies and facilities, such as ICU beds and ventilators, to promote decision making immediately.