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Bos, W.J.T., Bertoglio, JP. and Gostiaux, L.

Modeling the role of clusters and diffusion in the evolution of COVID-19 infections during lock-down

Computational Mechanics, april 2021

The dynamics of the spread of epidemics, such as the recent outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, is highly nonlinear and therefore difficult to predict. As time evolves in the present pandemic, it appears more and more clearly that a clustered dynamics is a key element of the description. This means that the disease rapidly evolves within spatially localized networks, that diffuse and eventually create new clusters. We improve upon the simplest possible compartmental model, the SIR model, by adding an additional compartment associated with the clustered individuals.

This sophistication is compatible with more advanced compartmental models and allows, at the lowest level of complexity, to leverage the well-mixedness assumption. The so-obtained SBIR model takes into account the effect of inhomogeneity on epidemic spreading, and compares satisfactorily with results on the pandemic propagation in a number of European countries, during and immediately after lock-down. Especially, the decay exponent of the number of new cases after the first peak of the epidemic is captured without the need to vary the coefficients of the model with time. We show that this decay exponent is directly determined by the diffusion of the ensemble of clustered individuals and can be related to a global reproduction number, that overrides the classical, local reproduction number.

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