CSH Webtalk by Jana Lasser: “Agent-based simulations of SARS-CoV-2 prevention measures in schools”

Feb 26, 2021 | 15:0016:00

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Jana Lasser (CSH, MUW) will present an online talk within the seminar “Analysis of Complex Systems” on February 26, 2021 from 3pm – 4 pm (CET) via Zoom.


If you would like to join the talk, please email office@csh.ac.at


Title: Agent-based Simulations of SARS-CoV-2 Prevention Measures in Schools



The role of schools in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is still controversial. It is often hard to delineate transmissions in schools from transmissions involving school-aged children in other settings as well as to properly assess the impact of school-specific mitigation measures. Here, we tackle these challenges by analyzing extensive Austrian contact tracing data from 616 outbreaks with transmissions in schools involving 2,822 students and 676 teachers to calibrate an agent-based epidemiological model in terms of the distribution of cluster sizes and the dependence of transmission risks on age and symptomatic versus asymptomatic disease courses. Within this model we quantify the impact of different prevention measures including ventilation, class size reductions, wearing masks during the lessons, as well as screening strategies by means of antigen tests. While 40% of the clusters contained no more than two cases, we find that 3% of all clusters contained more than 20 infections. The younger the children, the more likely we found asymptomatic cases and teachers being the index case of the cluster. Different types of schools require different combinations of measures to achieve control of the virus spread (each case infects on average less than one other person). In primary schools, it is in general necessary to combine two of the above measures whereas, in secondary schools, where contact networks of students and teachers become increasingly large and dense, a combination of three measures is needed. A sensitivity analysis indicates that outbreak sizes might increase up to three-fold in secondary schools for virus variants with 50% increased transmissibility, whereas poorly executed or enforced mitigation measures might increase outbreak sizes by a factor of more than 30. Our results suggest that school-type-specific combinations of measures allow for a controlled opening of schools even under sustained community transmission of SARS-CoV-2, even though outbreaks involving multiple cases are to be expected on an infrequent but regular basis.


Feb 26, 2021