The Weitz Group’s work in modeling Covid-19 was recently featured in Quanta Magazine. Prof. Weitz and his collaborator Johnathan Dushoff were interviewed for the article to discuss their work estimating the reproduction rate of Covid-19, as well as the larger role mathematical modeling plays in scientific research. The piece featured papers recently published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface and PNAS.
The Covid-19 risk calculator created by our team has been featured in a number of news items as the holiday season approaches. See our research in the news below, and check out the paper detailing the calculator in Nature Human Behavior!
- BBC News
- National Public Radio: WABE Atlanta
- The Washington Post
- Wired Magazine
- Business Insider
- The Guardian
- The New York Times
- WABE News Roundup
- Bloomberg News
- LA times
- The Boston Globe
- Time magazine
- Atlanta Magazine
“Epidemics don’t necessarily have a single peak after which the risk subsides,” said Joshua Weitz, Patton Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences and founding director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Quantitative Biosciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “People’s behaviors are both influenced by and influence epidemic dynamics, potentially driving plateaus, and oscillations in incidence.”
“If people are aware of the severity of the epidemic, they may change their behavior, and if they change their behavior, there will be fewer severe outcomes,” Weitz went on to describe. “But if awareness is short-term, individuals may tire of public health regulations and the virus will come roaring back. Instead of a single peak in cases, there can be plateaus or oscillations balanced between cautious behavior and relaxation.”
But that’s the point: catching a case early may help to isolate individuals before they become highly infectious, thereby stopping chains of transmission before they start. In doing so, we reduce the chance that one case becomes a few and a few cases become many.
Prof. Weitz wrote a guest column in the Atlanta Journal Constitution discussing the potential ramifications of students returning to campus while Covid-19 still runs rampant throughout Georgia.
To understand why Georgia’s colleges and universities are not ready for face-to-face instruction, consider the return of 10,000 undergraduates to campus. How many of those will be infected with SARS-CoV-2? An estimate is possible by observing that in the past two weeks, more than 50,000 new cases have been documented in Georgia, more than 25% of the total cases reported by the Georgia Department of Public Health since the outbreak began.
Weitz referenced the Covid-19 risk assessment tool in his piece, citing that the tool “estimates that there is an approximately 50-50 chance that one (or more) in a classroom of 25 students and one instructor would show up to class infected with SARS-CoV-2.”