The timing and nature of behavioral responses affect the course of an epidemic

Rebecca Tyson
Mon, Jun 22, 2020
CAIMS - PIMS Coronavirus Modelling Conference

During an epidemic, the interplay of disease and opinion dynamics can lead to outcomes that are different from those predicted based on disease dynamics alone. Opinions and the behaviors they elicit are complex, so modeling them requires a measure of abstraction and simplification. In this talk, we develop a differential equation model that couples SIR-type disease dynamics with opinion dynamics. We assume a spectrum of opinions that change based on current levels of infection as well as interactions that to some extent amplify the opinions of like-minded individuals. Susceptibility to infection is based on the level of prophylaxis (disease avoidance) that an opinion engenders. In this setting, we observe how the severity of an epidemic is influenced by the distribution of opinions at disease introduction, the relative rates of opinion and disease dynamics, and the amount of opinion amplification. Some insight is gained by considering how the effective reproduction number is influenced by the combination of opinion and disease dynamics.