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1.
PLoS Biol ; 20(6): e3001685, 2022 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1902597

ABSTRACT

Historically, emerging and reemerging infectious diseases have caused large, deadly, and expensive multinational outbreaks. Often outbreak investigations aim to identify who infected whom by reconstructing the outbreak transmission tree, which visualizes transmission between individuals as a network with nodes representing individuals and branches representing transmission from person to person. We compiled a database, called OutbreakTrees, of 382 published, standardized transmission trees consisting of 16 directly transmitted diseases ranging in size from 2 to 286 cases. For each tree and disease, we calculated several key statistics, such as tree size, average number of secondary infections, the dispersion parameter, and the proportion of cases considered superspreaders, and examined how these statistics varied over the course of each outbreak and under different assumptions about the completeness of outbreak investigations. We demonstrated the potential utility of the database through 2 short analyses addressing questions about superspreader epidemiology for a variety of diseases, including Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). First, we found that our transmission trees were consistent with theory predicting that intermediate dispersion parameters give rise to the highest proportion of cases causing superspreading events. Additionally, we investigated patterns in how superspreaders are infected. Across trees with more than 1 superspreader, we found preliminary support for the theory that superspreaders generate other superspreaders. In sum, our findings put the role of superspreading in COVID-19 transmission in perspective with that of other diseases and suggest an approach to further research regarding the generation of superspreaders. These data have been made openly available to encourage reuse and further scientific inquiry.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Decision Trees , COVID-19/epidemiology , Disease Outbreaks , Disease Transmission, Infectious , Humans
2.
J R Soc Interface ; 19(187): 20210702, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1691717

ABSTRACT

Short-term forecasts of the dynamics of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the period up to its decline following mass vaccination was a task that received much attention but proved difficult to do with high accuracy. However, the availability of standardized forecasts and versioned datasets from this period allows for continued work in this area. Here, we introduce the Gaussian infection state space with time dependence (GISST) forecasting model. We evaluate its performance in one to four weeks ahead forecasts of COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions and deaths in the state of California made with official reports of COVID-19, Google's mobility reports and vaccination data available each week. Evaluation of these forecasts with a weighted interval score shows them to consistently outperform a naive baseline forecast and often score closer to or better than a high-performing ensemble forecaster. The GISST model also provides parameter estimates for a compartmental model of COVID-19 dynamics, includes a regression submodel for the transmission rate and allows for parameters to vary over time according to a random walk. GISST provides a novel, balanced combination of computational efficiency, model interpretability and applicability to large multivariate datasets that may prove useful in improving the accuracy of infectious disease forecasts.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Forecasting , Hospitalization , Humans , SARS-CoV-2
3.
Proc Biol Sci ; 289(1968): 20211809, 2022 02 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1677340

ABSTRACT

Early warning indicators based on critical slowing down have been suggested as a model-independent and low-cost tool to anticipate the (re)emergence of infectious diseases. We studied whether such indicators could reliably have anticipated the second COVID-19 wave in European countries. Contrary to theoretical predictions, we found that characteristic early warning indicators generally decreased rather than increased prior to the second wave. A model explains this unexpected finding as a result of transient dynamics and the multiple timescales of relaxation during a non-stationary epidemic. Particularly, if an epidemic that seems initially contained after a first wave does not fully settle to its new quasi-equilibrium prior to changing circumstances or conditions that force a second wave, then indicators will show a decreasing rather than an increasing trend as a result of the persistent transient trajectory of the first wave. Our simulations show that this lack of timescale separation was to be expected during the second European epidemic wave of COVID-19. Overall, our results emphasize that the theory of critical slowing down applies only when the external forcing of the system across a critical point is slow relative to the internal system dynamics.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Communicable Diseases , Europe , Humans , SARS-CoV-2
4.
Trends Parasitol ; 37(12): 1096-1110, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1415725

ABSTRACT

The order Carnivora includes over 300 species that vary many orders of magnitude in size and inhabit all major biomes, from tropical rainforests to polar seas. The high diversity of carnivore parasites represents a source of potential emerging diseases of humans. Zoonotic risk from this group may be driven in part by exceptionally high functional diversity of host species in behavioral, physiological, and ecological traits. We review global macroecological patterns of zoonotic parasites within carnivores, and explore the traits of species that serve as hosts of zoonotic parasites. We synthesize theoretical and empirical research and suggest future work on the roles of carnivores as biotic multipliers, regulators, and sentinels of zoonotic disease as timely research frontiers.


Subject(s)
Carnivora/parasitology , Host-Parasite Interactions , Zoonoses/parasitology , Animals , Biodiversity , Host Specificity , Humans
5.
Proc Biol Sci ; 288(1949): 20203074, 2021 04 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1388074

ABSTRACT

Initial efforts to mitigate transmission of SARS-CoV-2 relied on intensive social distancing measures such as school and workplace closures, shelter-in-place orders and prohibitions on the gathering of people. Other non-pharmaceutical interventions for suppressing transmission include active case finding, contact tracing, quarantine, immunity or health certification, and a wide range of personal protective measures. Here we investigate the potential effectiveness of these alternative approaches to suppression. We introduce a conceptual framework represented by two mathematical models that differ in strategy. We find both strategies may be effective, although both require extensive testing and work within a relatively narrow range of conditions. Generalized protective measures such as wearing face masks, improved hygiene and local reductions in density are found to significantly increase the effectiveness of targeted interventions.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , Masks , Physical Distancing , Quarantine
6.
Front Public Health ; 9: 654299, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1348570

ABSTRACT

There are many outstanding questions about how to control the global COVID-19 pandemic. The information void has been especially stark in the World Health Organization Africa Region, which has low per capita reported cases, low testing rates, low access to therapeutic drugs, and has the longest wait for vaccines. As with all disease, the central challenge in responding to COVID-19 is that it requires integrating complex health systems that incorporate prevention, testing, front line health care, and reliable data to inform policies and their implementation within a relevant timeframe. It requires that the population can rely on the health system, and decision-makers can rely on the data. To understand the process and challenges of such an integrated response in an under-resourced rural African setting, we present the COVID-19 strategy in Ifanadiana District, where a partnership between Malagasy Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and non-governmental organizations integrates prevention, diagnosis, surveillance, and treatment, in the context of a model health system. These efforts touch every level of the health system in the district-community, primary care centers, hospital-including the establishment of the only RT-PCR lab for SARS-CoV-2 testing outside of the capital. Starting in March of 2021, a second wave of COVID-19 occurred in Madagascar, but there remain fewer cases in Ifanadiana than for many other diseases (e.g., malaria). At the Ifanadiana District Hospital, there have been two deaths that are officially attributed to COVID-19. Here, we describe the main components and challenges of this integrated response, the broad epidemiological contours of the epidemic, and how complex data sources can be developed to address many questions of COVID-19 science. Because of data limitations, it still remains unclear how this epidemic will affect rural areas of Madagascar and other developing countries where health system utilization is relatively low and there is limited capacity to diagnose and treat COVID-19 patients. Widespread population based seroprevalence studies are being implemented in Ifanadiana to inform the COVID-19 response strategy as health systems must simultaneously manage perennial and endemic disease threats.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , COVID-19 Testing , Humans , Madagascar/epidemiology , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Seroepidemiologic Studies
7.
Sci Rep ; 11(1): 15450, 2021 07 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1333986

ABSTRACT

The pandemic of COVID-19 has become one of the greatest threats to human health, causing severe disruptions in the global supply chain, and compromising health care delivery worldwide. Although government authorities sought to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2, by restricting travel and in-person activities, failure to deploy time-sensitive strategies in ramping-up of critical resource production exacerbated the outbreak. Here, we developed a mathematical model to analyze the effects of the interaction between supply chain disruption and infectious disease dynamics using coupled production and disease networks built on global data. Analysis of the supply chain model suggests that time-sensitive containment strategies could be created to balance objectives in pandemic control and economic losses, leading to a spatiotemporal separation of infection peaks that alleviates the societal impact of the disease. A lean resource allocation strategy can reduce the impact of supply chain shortages from 11.91 to 1.11% in North America. Our model highlights the importance of cross-sectoral coordination and region-wise collaboration to optimally contain a pandemic and provides a framework that could advance the containment and model-based decision making for future pandemics.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/economics , COVID-19/epidemiology , Delivery of Health Care/statistics & numerical data , Food Supply/statistics & numerical data , Models, Theoretical , Delivery of Health Care/economics , Food Supply/economics , Global Health , Humans , Pandemics/economics , Quarantine , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Travel
8.
BMC Infect Dis ; 21(1): 577, 2021 Jun 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1274542

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: During outbreaks of emerging and re-emerging infections, the lack of effective drugs and vaccines increases reliance on non-pharmacologic public health interventions and behavior change to limit human-to-human transmission. Interventions that increase the speed with which infected individuals remove themselves from the susceptible population are paramount, particularly isolation and hospitalization. Ebola virus disease (EVD), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) are zoonotic viruses that have caused significant recent outbreaks with sustained human-to-human transmission. METHODS: This investigation quantified changing mean removal rates (MRR) and days from symptom onset to hospitalization (DSOH) of infected individuals from the population in seven different outbreaks of EVD, SARS, and MERS, to test for statistically significant differences in these metrics between outbreaks. RESULTS: We found that epidemic week and viral serial interval were correlated with the speed with which populations developed and maintained health behaviors in each outbreak. CONCLUSIONS: These findings highlight intrinsic population-level changes in isolation rates in multiple epidemics of three zoonotic infections with established human-to-human transmission and significant morbidity and mortality. These data are particularly useful for disease modelers seeking to forecast the spread of emerging pathogens.


Subject(s)
Communicable Disease Control/methods , Communicable Diseases, Emerging/epidemiology , Communicable Diseases, Emerging/prevention & control , Disease Outbreaks , Health Behavior , Animals , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Epidemics/prevention & control , Forecasting , Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola/epidemiology , Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola/prevention & control , Humans , Public Health , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome/epidemiology , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome/prevention & control , Zoonoses/epidemiology , Zoonoses/prevention & control
9.
Glob Health Action ; 13(1): 1816044, 2020 12 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-814069

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc globally with particular concerns for sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where models suggest that the majority of the population will become infected. Conventional wisdom suggests that the continent will bear a higher burden of COVID-19 for the same reasons it suffers from other infectious diseases: ecology, socio-economic conditions, lack of water and sanitation infrastructure, and weak health systems. However, so far SSA has reported lower incidence and fatalities compared to the predictions of standard models and the experience of other regions of the world. There are three leading explanations, each with different implications for the final epidemic burden: (1) low case detection, (2) differences in epidemiology (e.g. low R 0 ), and (3) policy interventions. The low number of cases have led some SSA governments to relaxing these policy interventions. Will this result in a resurgence of cases? To understand how to interpret the lower-than-expected COVID-19 case data in Madagascar, we use a simple age-structured model to explore each of these explanations and predict the epidemic impact associated with them. We show that the incidence of COVID-19 cases as of July 2020 can be explained by any combination of the late introduction of first imported cases, early implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), and low case detection rates. We then re-evaluate these findings in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic in Madagascar through August 2020. This analysis reinforces that Madagascar, along with other countries in SSA, remains at risk of a growing health crisis. If NPIs remain enforced, up to 50,000 lives may be saved. Even with NPIs, without vaccines and new therapies, COVID-19 could infect up to 30% of the population, making it the largest public health threat in Madagascar for the coming year, hence the importance of clinical trials and continually improving access to healthcare.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Models, Theoretical , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Africa South of the Sahara/epidemiology , COVID-19 , Humans , Incidence , Madagascar/epidemiology , Pandemics
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