Known and unknown pandemic models

8 thoughts on “Known and unknown pandemic models”

  1. Hi Raghu,

    As always, thank you for the post. You point out some very good points, and I think another reason why we haven’t seen very many detailed studies might have to do with the way resources are being/ have been partitioned. For example, while governors may have largest say in how their state responds to the pandemic (which is probably a good thing), they have to fight from a large pot of resources to do so. This points to a flaw in resource allotment from the beginning, but it also points to a weird dynamic for determination of quantity of resources allotted. Perhaps it isn’t as strategic for a state to give highly tailored information for their particular situations when the federal government sees 49 other states claiming a simpler argument for maybe a larger piece of the pie. Perhaps our leadership (or lack thereof) doesn’t allow for complex arguments in the face of complex problems.

    Related question: Are you or any colleagues currently teaming up to develop such a model?

    Hope you are well.

    1. Thanks! About “Perhaps our leadership (or lack thereof) doesn’t allow for complex arguments in the face of complex problems.” I agree, though I’m sadly realizing that most people, not just our leadership, have an even bigger aversion to complex arguments than I thought!
      About developing a better model: no, I’m not working on this. I could give a bunch of reasons that aren’t wholly satisfying. If you want, I can tack these onto the post!

  2. What specific questions do you want to use the models to answer?

    It’s not a good idea to add model complexity because “X matters” rather than because there’s a specific question you have in mind and a plausible argument for why modelling X in detail is relevant to answering that question.

    So a third possibility is that the kind of detail you want isn’t considered necessary for answering the kinds of questions these models are used for. Maybe the model parameters are fit with such noisy/stale data that it would make no sense to ask detailed questions of the resulting models. In this case, the kinds of details you suggest including may not be relevant for the kinds of questions which *are* asked.

  3. There are plenty of bad models out there — particularly the U Washington IHME one.

    But how much looking have you done for good ones? Have you read the Imperial College London paper from March 16? Their model seems quite good, and well-suited to simulate the effects of various policies.

  4. Me and some colleagues (at Leeds and Cambridge) are starting to do what you suggest, but it is data and time hungry. We did apply for a grant to do this a couple of years ago, but the need was not appreciated then. In a way this is quite mundane – where people go each day and who they meet, but it would be so useful for many tasks (e.g. crime and transport modellings as well as epidemics).

    1. Great! Sorry for my slow “approval” of this comment to be posted — WordPress used to alert me if comments appear, but this doesn’t seem to be happening anymore, so I have to remember to check manually.

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