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PLoS Comput Biol ; 18(4): e1009973, 2022 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2021460


The drivers behind regional differences of SARS-CoV-2 spread on finer spatio-temporal scales are yet to be fully understood. Here we develop a data-driven modelling approach based on an age-structured compartmental model that compares 116 Austrian regions to a suitably chosen control set of regions to explain variations in local transmission rates through a combination of meteorological factors, non-pharmaceutical interventions and mobility. We find that more than 60% of the observed regional variations can be explained by these factors. Decreasing temperature and humidity, increasing cloudiness, precipitation and the absence of mitigation measures for public events are the strongest drivers for increased virus transmission, leading in combination to a doubling of the transmission rates compared to regions with more favourable weather. We conjecture that regions with little mitigation measures for large events that experience shifts toward unfavourable weather conditions are particularly predisposed as nucleation points for the next seasonal SARS-CoV-2 waves.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Austria/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Humans , Meteorological Concepts , Weather
J R Soc Interface ; 18(185): 20210608, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1865053


Due to its high lethality among older people, the safety of nursing homes has been of central importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. With test procedures and vaccines becoming available at scale, nursing homes might relax prohibitory measures while controlling the spread of infections. By control we mean that each index case infects less than one other person on average. Here, we develop an agent-based epidemiological model for the spread of SARS-CoV-2 calibrated to Austrian nursing homes to identify optimal prevention strategies. We find that the effectiveness of mitigation testing depends critically on test turnover time (time until test result), the detection threshold of tests and mitigation testing frequencies. Under realistic conditions and in absence of vaccinations, we find that mitigation testing of employees only might be sufficient to control outbreaks if tests have low turnover times and detection thresholds. If vaccines that are 60% effective against high viral load and transmission are available, control is achieved if 80% or more of the residents are vaccinated, even without mitigation testing and if residents are allowed to have visitors. Since these results strongly depend on vaccine efficacy against infection, retention of testing infrastructures, regular testing and sequencing of virus genomes is advised to enable early identification of new variants of concern.

COVID-19 , Pandemics , Aged , Epidemiological Models , Humans , Nursing Homes , SARS-CoV-2 , Vaccination , Vaccine Efficacy