Monday, February 22, 2021

COVID-19 Simulations

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine 

Ed Hessler

"I have thought there was some advantage even in death, by which we mingle with the herd of common men."--Henry David Thoreau

"What will it take to finally halt the spread of the coronavirus in U.S?" ask Thomas Wilburn and Richard Harris in an NPR report on health.

Herd immunity is one on which we are depending. By the way I hope never to use the term "herd immunity" again. In a conversation with the UMN's Larry Jacobs, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, makes a case for using the term "community immunity." * ** *** The terms refer to the large role in slowing, limiting and eventually it is hoped halting the spread of the coronavirus. 

Wilburn and Harris "created a simulation of a mock disease: SIMVID-19." They introduce the simulation with three population blocks of 400 in which 3 people are infected and 397 people are healthy in which 5%, 30% and 75% are vaccinated.

But like other examples I've seen the authors don't stop there. They introduce other factors. These are when a more infections strain of SIMVID-19 takes over; a heavily exposed population which assumes that many people are already immune; and a population in which few people are immune at the beginning of an SIMVID-19 outbreak.

Among the scenarios, 75% vaccination rates "tamed" the outbreaks in all but one. The authors call attention to what scientists are telling us "that between 70% and 85% of the population must be immune" to provide protection, that is community community.

The final point is "One thing that's evident from this simulation (and real life) is that the faster the population is protected by vaccination the better."

Here is the report in which the simulation may be found and played. Additionally, the methodology is discussed. In addition to Wilburn and Harris, Daniel Wood and Carmel Wroth contributed to the report. 

* h/t to Eric Black, MinnPost, February 22, 2021

** The full video may be seen here. It is on resilience. In it she also called attention to a phrase that scientists such Dr. Anthony Fauci use frequently: what we know. What Fauci and other scientist mean is what we know now, today, as of this moment. It is not a forever statement and is subject to change. The changes are not willy-nilly but based on new data, better and different experiments and new evidence. The phrase is often used against Dr. Fauci and others but he is vulnerable because he is such a public figure.--how come you said but now...?, etc.. 

*** If you want to see critical thinking used in action, there are few examples better than this video. It is on full display by Professor Kathleen Hall Jamieson.

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