Key questions for policy makers – epidemiological modelling

What is epidemiological modelling?

Epidemiological modelling predicts the spread of disease through a population based on different scenarios, and assesses the potential impact of various non-pharmaceutical interventions (e.g. hand washing, school closures, travel bans). It can also incorporate treatments and vaccines when they become available.

We use the internationally recognised CoMo model, which is an age structured Susceptible-Exposed-Infectious-Recovery (SEIR) compartmental-mechanistic model. The CoMo consortium is primarily focused on LMICS and its members are located in more than 30 countries.

How does it work?

We work with Ministries of Health and national academics to input data and tailor the model to country specific factors as much as possible. Over 2-3 weeks, in discussion with country partners, we devise initial scenarios based on different combinations of interventions and look at the predicted impact in terms of infection, recovery and death rates.

Ideally, this is an iterative process, where the modelling is revised as new data becomes available or as interventions are put in place.

What can it tell us?

In exploring multiple scenarios and in combination with the larger available evidence base, the outputs of the model can inform crucial public health policy decisions, such as:

  • the impact of the various mitigation strategies on transmission of the virus and mechanisms for “flattening of the curve” and which interventions will be more effective in their specific contexts;
  • the anticipated demand for hospital at various levels of the health system;
  • the quantity of tests, personal protective equipment, ventilators and other supportive tools needed in treating the diagnosis and treatment of patients, and
  • the cost of equipment needed.
How can HEART support in developing the scenarios further?

OPM has partnered with the University of Oxford and the CoMo consortium to do epidemiological modelling, which will help governments predict what will be needed to respond to COVID-19, but governments may need further assistance on how to implement these changes to the health system.

HEART partners are experts in different parts of the health system and can work with governments to give advice and find solutions; for example, the University of Leeds and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine can advise on how to adapt primary to tertiary service delivery facilities for COVID-19, and Hera can advise on the PPE supply chain. Services can range from a rapid evidence brief on a particular topic to embedded technical assistance.