Balancing Quarantine and Self-Distancing Measures in Adaptive Epidemic Networks


We study the relative importance of two key control measures for epidemic spreading: endogenous social self-distancing and exogenous imposed quarantine. We use the framework of adaptive networks, moment-closure, and ordinary differential equations to introduce new model types of susceptible-infected-recovered (SIR) dynamics.

First, we compare computationally expensive, adaptive network simulations with their corresponding computationally efficient ODE equivalents and find excellent agreement.

Second, we discover that there exists a critical curve in parameter space for the epidemic threshold, which suggests a mutual compensation effect between the two mitigation strategies: as long as social distancing and quarantine measures are both sufficiently strong, large outbreaks are prevented.

Third, we study the total number of infected and the maximum peak during large outbreaks using a combination of analytical estimates and numerical simulations. Also for large outbreaks we find a similar compensation mechanism as for the epidemic threshold. This means that if there is little incentive for social distancing in a population, drastic quarantining is required, and vice versa. Both pure scenarios are unrealistic in practice. The new models show that only a combination of measures is likely to succeed to control epidemic spreading.

Fourth, we analytically compute an upper bound for the total number of infected on adaptive networks, using integral estimates in combination with a moment-closure approximation on the level of an observable.

Our method allows us to elegantly and quickly check and cross-validate various conjectures about the relevance of different network control measures. In this sense it becomes possible to adapt also other models rapidly to new epidemic challenges.

L. Horstmeyer, C. Kühn, S. Thurner, Balancing Quarantine and Self-Distancing Measures in Adaptive Epidemic Networks, Bulletin of Mathematical Biology 84 (2022) 79

This publication was supported by the following project(s):

  • FFG, Project No. FFG 873927
  • FFG, Project No. FFG 857136