Group for Research in Decision Analysis


Optimization of infectious disease prevention and control policies using agent-based modeling


The spread of an infectious disease such as COVID-19 is governed by complex social interactions that are challenging to model. Policy makers must take measures to control the spread of infection despite the unknowns that accompany a novel epidemic. The principles of artificial life govern the intricacies of social interaction through which diseases can spread. Agent-based models can capture these complexities for a subset of the population by defining the behavior of individual agents. While they can be computationally expensive for large populations, their outcomes are stochastic. Therefore, they can be used to test disease prevention policies, that can be difficult to simulate using deterministic approaches. We developed an agent-based model that is inspired by several interactive simulations on the internet for describing the COVID-19 pandemic. We define metrics to estimate the socio-economic cost of disease prevention policies on the population. We present a policy-making tool based on blackbox optimization and evolutionary computation that provides well-rounded intervention measures in terms of socio-economic cost and disease control. Several intervention measures are suggested by the algorithms with varying degrees of disease control and socio-economic cost. Policy makers can choose an intervention measure based on their preference. This research recommends combining computational intelligence principles and the use of mathematical algorithms for identifying the critical amount of intervention necessary to control infectious diseases and formulate intervention policies that minimize socio-economic cost.

, 23 pages