Disease-dependent interaction policies to support health and economic outcomes during the COVID-19 epidemic

medRxiv. 2020 Sep 1:2020.08.24.20180752. doi: 10.1101/2020.08.24.20180752. Preprint.


Lockdowns and stay-at-home orders have partially mitigated the spread of Covid-19. However, the indiscriminate nature of mitigation – applying to all individuals irrespective of disease status – has come with substantial socioeconomic costs. Here, we explore how to leverage the increasing reliability and scale of both molecular and serological tests to balance transmission risks with economic costs involved in responding to Covid-19 epidemics. First, we introduce an optimal control approach that identifies personalized interaction rates according to an individual’s test status; such that infected individuals isolate, recovered individuals can elevate their interactions, and activity of susceptible individuals varies over time. Critically, the extent to which susceptible individuals can return to work depends strongly on isolation efficiency. As we show, optimal control policies can yield mitigation policies with similar infection rates to total shutdown but lower socioeconomic costs. However, optimal control policies can be fragile given mis-specification of parameters or mis-estimation of the current disease state. Hence, we leverage insights from the optimal control solutions and propose a feedback control approach based on monitoring of the epidemic state. We utilize genetic algorithms to identify a ‘switching’ policy such that susceptible individuals (both PCR and serological test negative) return to work after lockdowns insofar as recovered fraction is much higher than the circulating infected prevalence. This feedback control policy exhibits similar performance results to optimal control, but with greater robustness to uncertainty. Overall, our analysis shows that test-driven improvements in isolation efficiency of infectious individuals can inform disease-dependent interaction policies that mitigate transmission while enhancing the return of individuals to pre-pandemic economic activity.

PMID:32909010 | PMC:PMC7480062 | DOI:10.1101/2020.08.24.20180752