Mathematical Models Supporting Control of COVID-19


Mathematical models have played an important role in the management of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The aim of this review is to describe the use of COVID-19 mathematical models, their classification, and the advantages and disadvantages of different types of models. We conducted subject heading searches of PubMed and China National Knowledge Infrastructure with the terms “COVID-19,” “Mathematical Statistical Model,” “Model,” “Modeling,” “Agent-based Model,” and “Ordinary Differential Equation Model” and classified and analyzed the scientific literature retrieved in the search. We categorized the models as data-driven or mechanism-driven. Data-driven models are mainly used for predicting epidemics, and have the advantage of rapid assessment of disease instances. However, their ability to determine transmission mechanisms is limited. Mechanism-driven models include ordinary differential equation (ODE) and agent-based models. ODE models are used to estimate transmissibility and evaluate impact of interventions. Although ODE models are good at determining pathogen transmission characteristics, they are less suitable for simulation of early epidemic stages and rely heavily on availability of first-hand field data. Agent-based models consider influences of individual differences, but they require large amounts of data and can take a long time to develop fully. Many COVID-19 mathematical modeling studies have been conducted, and these have been used for predicting trends, evaluating interventions, and calculating pathogen transmissibility. Successful infectious disease modeling requires comprehensive considerations of data, applications, and purposes.

China CDC Weekly