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In Australia, COVID-19 intervention policies centred on strict travel restrictions and limits to gathering size, which persisted in an elimination mode until the introduction of the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2. While effective at preventing transmission of the virus, these policies accrued enormous economic, social, and human costs. While it is clear that the distributions of these costs were not uniform in the population, characterising this inequity is a challenge. In this talk I will discuss two studies in which the distribution of these impacts was measured through surrogate indicators (travel rates and home internet usage) and examined as functions of socioeconomic factors. I will then describe an agent-based modelling framework that my team is currently developing in order to simulate the behavioural response to interventions. Our eventual goal is to simulate these responses in a way that provides estimates of impact, not only in terms of directly measurable quantities (such as travel rates), but also in terms of more elusive values such as the level of autonomy an individual gives up to avoid or negate infection risk.
Related publications: Chang et al. Modelling transmission and control of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. Nature communications. 2020 Nov 11;11(1):5710.
Golding N, Shearer FM, Moss R, Dawson P, Liu D, Ross JV, Hyndman R, Zachreson C, Geard N, McVernon J, Price DJ. Estimating temporal variation in transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and physical distancing behaviour in Australia. Doherty Institute. 2020 Jul 17.
Zachreson et al. Mapping home internet activity during COVID-19 lockdown to identify occupation related inequalities. Scientific reports. 2021 Oct 26;11(1):21054.