An agent-based model of spread of a pandemic with validation using COVID-19 data from New York State

Amitava Datta, Surajit Sen, Peter Winkelstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We introduce a novel agent based model where each agent carries an effective viral load that captures the instantaneous state of infection of the agent. We simulate the spread of a pandemic and subsequently validate it by using publicly available COVID-19 data. Our simulation tracks the temporal evolution of a virtual city or community of agents in terms of contracting infection, recovering asymptomatically, or getting hospitalized. The virtual community is divided into family groups with 2-6 individuals in each group. Agents interact with other agents in virtual public places like at grocery stores, on public transportation and in offices. We initially seed the virtual community with a very small number of infected individuals and then monitor the disease spread and hospitalization over a period of fifty days, which is a reasonable time-frame for the initial spread of a pandemic. An uninfected or asymptomatic agent is randomly selected from a random family group in each simulation step for visiting a random public space. Subsequently, an uninfected agent contracts infection if the public place is occupied by other infected agents. We have calibrated our simulation rounds according to the size of the population of the virtual community for simulating realistic exposure of agents to a contagion. Our simulation results are consistent with the publicly available hospitalization and ICU patient data from three distinct regions of varying sizes in New York state. Our model can predict the trend in epidemic spread and hospitalization from a set of simple parameters and could be potentially useful in predicting the disease evolution based on available data and observations about public behavior. Our simulations suggest that relaxing the social distancing measures may increase the hospitalization numbers by some 30% or more.
Original languageEnglish
Article number126401
Number of pages28
JournalPHYSICA A-STATISTICAL MECHANICS AND ITS APPLICATIONS
Volume858
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

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