Optimality in COVID-19 vaccination strategies determined by heterogeneity in human-human interaction networks
by Edda Klipp, Humboldt-Univeristät zu Berlin. DE
Host: Luis Serrano, CRG
Interactions between humans cause transmission of SARS-CoV-2. We demonstrate that heterogeneity in human-human interactions give rise to non-linear infection networks that gain complexity with time. Consequently, targeted vaccination strategies are challenged as such effects are not accurately captured by epidemiological models assuming homogeneous mixing. With vaccines being distributed for global deployment determining optimality for swiftly reaching population level immunity in heterogeneous local communities world-wide is critical. We introduce a model that predicts the effect of vaccination into an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak using precision simulation of human-human interaction and infection networks. We show that simulations incorporating non-linear network complexity and local heterogeneity can enable governance with performance-quantified vaccination strategies.
Vaccinating highly interactive people diminishes the risk for an infection wave, while vaccinating the elderly reduces fatalities at low population level immunity. Interestingly, a combined strategy is not better due to non-linear effects. While risk groups should be vaccinated first to minimize fatalities, significant optimality branching is observed with increasing population level immunity. Importantly, we demonstrate that regardless of the immunization strategy non-pharmaceutical interventions are required to prevent ICU overload and breakdown of healthcare systems. The approach, adaptable in real-time and applicable to other viruses, provides a highly valuable platform for the current and future pandemics.