Online Course: Infectious Disease Modelling - An Introduction
A fundamental difference between infectious and non-infectious diseases is of their transmission dynamics. Communicable diseases therefore require a more rigorous treatment of the process, mainly quantitative. One such technique is that of modelling. In present times, there has been a surge in the usage of mathematical models to understand the transmission of infections and to assess the impact of control programmes in decreasing morbidity and mortality.
A model is simply a miniature or simplified illustration of a thought, concept or a relationship. It is a powerful tool in constructing and visualizing a real-world phenomenon and offers insight into the dynamics of the physical process. Modelling makes an integral part of decision-making process and allows simulations to predict meaningful outcomes of a complicated outcome or entity using what-if scenarios.
Modelling plays a major role in policy making, from health-economics to risk evaluation and planning, resource allocation; control programme evaluation; and monitoring of surveillance data. Mathematical modelling is fundamentally used in understanding infectious-disease epidemiology and predicting its future trends. Researchers and policy makers critically evaluate the correlation between the epidemiological data and the findings are linked through well understood physical relationships. They allow determining transmission pattern of the given disease which helps in controlling the outbreaks and devise prevention measures. In research, models form an essential part in study design, analysis (including parameter estimation) and interpretation. This technique is currently used by many countries to predict the impact of COVID-19.
With the advent of frequent novel infectious diseases epidemics; researchers and professionals working on infectious diseases, need to broaden their understanding of the transmission patterns, to be able to aptly infer and evaluate both epidemiological data, and the findings of mathematical modelling studies.