Data shows how the only way to control the Covid-19 outbreak is Australia is if 80% of the population stays home.
A new study by a NSW University suggested the only way to stop the outbreak of Covid-19 in Australia is to lockdown at least 80% of the nation for 3-4 months.
Numbers crunched by data scientists at the University of Sydney put a number on stopping the spread of #coronavirusau: If 80% practice social distancing, the pandemic will be controlled in 4 months. If 90% “13 to 14 weeks – meaning if we began tomorrow we could expect control of COVID-19 by July”.
Researchers at the University of Sydney used supercomputers to is build a simulation of the entire Australian population using information about where everyone lives, the number of adults and children in each house, how people move around their town or city, and other details such as the locations of schools and airports, ABC reported.
They then add a virus scenario (COVID-19) into their simulation, watched how it spreads and experimented with different models to determine outcomes.
While the researchers were quick to mention that their simulation does not necessarily represent what actually happens in the real world, the numbers were concerning based on the freedom of movement in the community currently.
The modelling was created by the Centre for Complex Systems and the Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity at Sydney University. It has been published online but has not yet been through a rigorous peer-review process.
However, the model was previously developed to map the spread of influenza in Australia and the same team published peer-reviewed papers on those results, ABC notes
Uni of Sydney put a number on stopping the spread of #coronavirusau: If 80% practice social distancing, the pandemic will be controlled in 4 months. If 90% "13 to 14 weeks – meaning if we began tomorrow we could expect control of COVID-19 by July". https://t.co/aDu34ejheD— Sophie Foster (@SophieFoster) March 25, 2020
The modelling was led by Complex Systems academic and pandemic modelling expert, Professor Mikhail Prokopenko, the study also revealed that social distancing would be an unproductive measure if adopted by less than 70 percent of the population.
“If we want to control the spread of COVID-19 – rather than letting the disease control us – at least eighty percent of the Australian population must comply with strict social distancing measures for at least four months,” said Professor Mikhail Prokopenko.
“However, if ninety percent of the population complies, then the duration could be as short as thirteen to fourteen weeks – meaning if we began tomorrow we could expect a control of COVID-19 by July,” he said.
“Conversely, if less than seventy percent of the population is adopting social distancing measures, we cannot suppress the spread of the pandemic and any social distancing could be a fruitless effort,” he said.
“There is a clear trade off – stricter measures imposed earlier would reduce how long our lives are impacted by this disease. On the contrary, laxer protocols could mean a longer, more drawn out and
How this modelling worked from the University of Sydney website:
How the modelling worked
The AceMod simulator comprises over twenty-four million software agents, each with attributes of an anonymous individual, such as age, gender, occupation, susceptibility and immunity to diseases. Contact rates within different social contexts, such as households, household clusters, local neighbourhoods, schools, classrooms and workplaces are also built into the program.
The set of generated agents captures average characteristics of the real population and is calibrated to 2016 Australian Census data with respect to key demographic statistics.
The interactions result in transmission of the disease from infectious to susceptible individuals: given the contact and transmission rates, the simulation computes and updates agents’ states over time, starting from initial infections, seeded in international airports around Australia
In this scenario, 80 percent social distancing could either mean – any person in one household could go out once in five days, or, one member per family of five could go out daily, but the other four stay at home all the time.
Ryan is Contributing Editor