Compartmental models have long been used in epidemiological studies for predicting disease spread. However, a major issue when using compartmental mathematical models concerns the time-invariant formulation of hyper-parameters that prevent the model from following the evolution over time of the epidemiological phenomenon under investigation.
In order to cope with this problem, the paper “Limits of Compartmental Models and New Opportunities for Machine Learning: A Case Study to Forecast the Second Wave of COVID-19 Hospitalizations in Lombardy, Italy“, published on the international, peer-reviewed journal Informatics, suggests an alternative hybrid approach based on Machine Learning that avoids recalculation of hyper-parameters and only uses an initial set.
The study, conucted by a team of Italian researchers including the CMCC scientists Andrea Gatto, Gabriele Accarino, Valeria Aloisi, Francesco Immorlano and Giovanni Aloisio, shows that the proposed hybrid approach makes it possible to correct the expected loss of accuracy observed in the compartmental model when the considered time horizon increases.
As a case study, a basic compartmental model has been designed and tested to forecast COVID-19 hospitalizations during the first and the second pandemic waves in Lombardy, Italy. The model is based on an extended formulation of the contact function that allows modelling of the trend of personal contacts throughout the reference period.
Moreover, the scenario analysis proposed in this work can help policy-makers select the most appropriate containment measures to reduce hospitalizations and relieve pressure on the health system, but also to limit any negative impact on the economic and social systems.
For more information:
Gatto, A.; Accarino, G.; Aloisi, V.; Immorlano, F.; Donato, F.; Aloisio, G. Limits of Compartmental Models and New Opportunities for Machine Learning: A Case Study to Forecast the Second Wave of COVID-19 Hospitalizations in Lombardy, Italy. Informatics 2021, 8, 57. https://doi.org/10.3390/informatics8030057