28 May '15, 11pm

How Computer Modelers Took On the Ebola Outbreak

How Computer Modelers Took On the Ebola Outbreak

The data Rivers compiled didn’t include some information essential for forecasting, such as the length of time from exposure to infectiousness and the duration of infectiousness. Some modelers used values measured in previous Ebola outbreaks, but Rivers doubted that historical data would apply to the current scenario. So she had her computer program estimate those values based on what the epidemic curve was showing. It was a good strategy; her values turned out to be close to the actual ones the WHO eventually published. Her model also did well in calculating a key variable called the “basic reproduction number,” which is the number of secondary infections caused by each primary infection in the early phase of an epidemic. Rivers’s model came up with the number 2.2, not far from the WHO’s final figure of 1.8.

Full article: http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/software/how-computer-...

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