PhilSci Archive

Agent-based modeling for SARS-CoV-2 epidemic prediction and intervention assessment. A methodological appraisal

Maziarz, Mariusz and Zach, Martin (2020) Agent-based modeling for SARS-CoV-2 epidemic prediction and intervention assessment. A methodological appraisal. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice. ISSN 1365-2753

[img] Text
Maziarz-Zach(revised).docx - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 21 August 2021.

Download (98kB)

Abstract

Our purpose is to assess epidemiological agent-based models– or ABMs - of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic methodologically. The rapid spread of the outbreak requires fast-paced decision-making regarding mitigation measures. However, the evidence for the efficacy of non-pharmaceutical interventions such as imposed social distancing and school or workplace closures is scarce: few observational studies use quasi-experimental research designs, and conducting randomized controlled trials seems infeasible. Additionally, evidence from the previous coronavirus outbreaks of SARS and MERS lacks external validity, given the significant differences in contagiousness of those pathogens relative to SARS-CoV-2. To address the pressing policy questions that have emerged as a result of COVID-19, epidemiologists have produced numerous models that range from simple compartmental models to highly advanced agent-based models. These models have been criticized for involving simplifications and lacking empirical support for their assumptions.
In order to address these voices and methodologically appraise epidemiological ABMs, we consider AceMod (the model of the COVID-19 epidemic in Australia) as an example of the modeling practice. Our case study shows that, although epidemiological ABMs involve simplifications of various sorts, the key characteristics of social interactions and the spread of SARS-CoV-2 are represented sufficiently accurately. This is the case because these modelers treat empirical results as inputs for constructing modeling assumptions and rules that the agents follow; and they use calibration to assert the adequacy to benchmark variables. Given this, we claim that the best epidemiological ABMs are models of actual mechanisms and deliver both mechanistic and difference-making evidence. Consequently, they may also adequately describe the effects of possible interventions. Finally, we discuss the limitations of ABMs and put forward policy recommendations.


Export/Citation: EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
Social Networking:
Share |

Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Maziarz, Mariuszmariusz.mm@gmail.com0000-0003-1979-0746
Zach, Martinm_zach@seznam.cz0000-0001-7181-0391
Keywords: agent-based modeling, mechanism, causal inference, mechanistic evidence, difference-making evidence, SARS-CoV-2
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Medicine > Epidemiology
General Issues > Evidence
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Depositing User: Mr Mariusz Maziarz
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2020 16:15
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2020 20:43
Item ID: 18175
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice
Publisher: Wiley
Official URL: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j...
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1111/jep.13459
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Medicine > Epidemiology
General Issues > Evidence
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Date: 21 August 2020
ISSN: 1365-2753
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/18175

Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Monthly Downloads for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Altmetric.com

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item