Research on the Frontline

UCC Researcher works on modelling studies to support health services planning

22 May 2020

A UCC academic is Ireland's lead researcher on an international COVID-19 modelling study. The Institute of Health Metrics & Evaluation (IHME) COVID-19 resource provides projection models for healthcare capacity for multiple countries around the globe, including Ireland. The projections are helping to inform the resources needed for hospital services, human resources and overall healthcare capacity and utilization. 

The forecasts include daily and cumulative COVID-19 deaths, social distancing mandate information, as well as infections and testing.  They are developed as part of a joint forecasting modelling study between the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study and the IHME at the University of Washington in Seattle, United States.

Zubair Kabir, Senior Lecturer in UCC's Department of Epidemiology & Public Health is the only lead researcher from Ireland on the the study. He said,

"Our aim is to release updates as frequently as possible. We will be working to make sure the model reflects what we are learning each day about the pandemic and that our forecast reflects the most up-to-date information available from all locations we track."

Over time, the model has moved from just a statistical model to a transmission infection dynamics model and the team has now incorporated the SEIR (Susceptible - Exposed - Infectious - Recovered) model into the projections for the UK and EU/EEA countries.

Going forward they will be looking at how the easing of social distancing mandates and changes in human mobility are informing the trends of the pandemic. Given the planned relaxing of social distancing measures in Ireland, the next iterations of the modelling work will involve factoring in these phased stages to estimate the projections. The study is ongoing work and evolving as an important resource to manage future planning whilst a vaccine remains some way off. Social distancing, hand hygiene, cough etiquette- will remain the cornerstone in curbing this pandemic, but future planning based on innovative and robust modelling studies such as these are crucially important. 

Browse projections by country at the IHME COVID-19 site here.

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