In the wake of the Zika virus outbreak in the Americas and the Caribbean, a university professor recently developed a biological-behavioral-operational computer model designed to help lawmakers choose the best intervention strategies to help contain the spread of infectious diseases.
Eva Lee, industrial and systems engineering professor at Georgia Tech and director of the Center for Operations Research in Medicine and Healthcare, said her modeling system gives policymakers essential data about how to mitigate infection, monitor risk, and trace disease during a pandemic.
The system, called ASSURE, utilizes a variety of data points, including biosurveillance, environmental, climate, viral, host, human behavior, and social factors in determining an appropriate course of action. From there, authorities would be given a “decision-support framework to estimate the cost-effectiveness of each prevention measure.”
“The containment of pandemics is fundamental to preventing a global epidemic,” Lee said. “ASSURE is a computational modeling tool designed for real-time support. By accepting real-time data, the model produces predictions that are customized to reflect a specific environment, policy and human behavior on the ground.”
Lee said the ASSURE system can be applied to contain a variety of potential pandemics, including Zika, dengue, Ebola, and yellow fever.
“The modeling framework accommodates various transmission mechanisms,” Lee said. “This allows public health officials to adapt rapidly to changing disease environments and different emerging epidemics.”