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Publication Detail
Second waves, social distancing, and the spread of COVID-19 across America [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]
Abstract
We recently described a dynamic causal model of a COVID-19 outbreak within a single region. Here, we combine several of these (epidemic) models to create a (pandemic) model of viral spread among regions. Our focus is on a second wave of new cases that may result from loss of immunity—and the exchange of people between regions—and how mortality rates can be ameliorated under different strategic responses. In particular, we consider hard or soft social distancing strategies predicated on national (Federal) or regional (State) estimates of the prevalence of infection in the population. The modelling is demonstrated using timeseries of new cases and deaths from the United States to estimate the parameters of a factorial (compartmental) epidemiological model of each State and, crucially, coupling between States. Using Bayesian model reduction, we identify the effective connectivity between States that best explains the initial phases of the outbreak in the United States. Using the ensuing posterior parameter estimates, we then evaluate the likely outcomes of different policies in terms of mortality, working days lost due to lockdown and demands upon critical care. The provisional results of this modelling suggest that social distancing and loss of immunity are the two key factors that underwrite a return to endemic equilibrium.
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