“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.”
How does awareness of an epidemic influence the number of fatalities? Our paper exploring an awareness-driven behavior model of Covid-19 was recently published in PNAS. Read more here.
In a truly collaborative effort with Aroon Chande, Seolha Lee, Mallory Harris, King (Quan) Nguyen, Stephen Beckett, Troy Hilley, Clio Andris, and Joshua Weitz, our Nature Human Behaviour article was published, outlining the model and step towards production of our Covid-19 Risk Assessment Dashboard.
Release of an interactive dashboard showcasing the status of COVID-19 in the state of Georgia. This RShiny dashboard is based on figures Dr. Stephen Beckett has been releasing on a regular basis via twitter and which have previously been shown in Georgia Tech COVID-19 townhall meetings.
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.