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Epidemiological Modelling of the Spread and Transmission of Infectious Diseases

  • In the last years, the public interest in epidemiology and mathematical modeling of disease spread has increased - mainly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has emphasized the urgent need for accurate and timely modelling of disease transmission. However, even prior to that, mathematical modelling has been used for describing the dynamics and spread of infectious diseases, which is vital for developing effective interventions and controls, e.g., for vaccination campaigns and social restrictions like lockdowns. The forecasts and evaluations provided by these models influence political actions and shape the measures implemented to contain the virus. This research contributes to the understanding and control of disease spread, specifically for Dengue fever and COVID-19, making use of mathematical models and various data analysis techniques. The mathematical foundations of epidemiological modelling, as well as several concepts for spatio-temporal diffusion like ordinary differential equation (ODE) models, are presented, as well as an originally human-vector model for Dengue fever, and the standard (SEIR)-model (with the potential inclusion of an equation for deceased persons), which are suited for the description of COVID-19. Additionally, multi-compartment models, fractional diffusion models, partial differential equations (PDE) models, and integro-differential models are used to describe spatial propagation of the diseases. We will make use of different optimization techniques to adapt the models to medical data and estimate the relevant parameters or finding optimal control techniques for containing diseases using both Metropolis and Lagrangian methods. Reasonable estimates for the unknown parameters are found, especially in initial stages of pandemics, when little to no information is available and the majority of the population has not got in contact with the disease. The longer a disease is present, the more complex the modelling gets and more things (vaccination, different types, etc.) appear and reduce the estimation and prediction quality of the mathematical models. While it is possible to create highly complex models with numerous equations and parameters, such an approach presents several challenges, including difficulties in comparing and evaluating data, increased risk of overfitting, and reduced generalizability. Therefore, we will also consider criteria for model selection based on fit and complexity as well as the sensitivity of the model with respect to specific parameters. This also gives valuable information on which political interventions should be more emphasized for possible variations of parameter values. Furthermore, the presented models, particularly the optimization using the Metropolis algorithm for parameter estimation, are compared with other established methods. The quality of model calculation, as well as computational effort and applicability, play a role in this comparison. Additionally, the spatial integro-differential model is compared with an established agent-based model. Since the macroscopic results align very well, the computationally faster integro-differential model can now be used as a proxy for the slower and non-traditionally optimizable agent-based model, e.g., in order to find an apt control strategy.

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Author:Moritz Schäfer
Referee:Thomas Götz
Advisor:Thomas Götz
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of completion:2023/12/19
Date of publication:2023/12/21
Publishing institution:Universität Koblenz, Universitätsbibliothek
Granting institution:Universität Koblenz, Fachbereich 3
Date of final exam:2023/12/13
Release Date:2023/12/21
Number of pages:xxii, 256
Institutes:Fachbereich 3 / Mathematisches Institut
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 51 Mathematik / 519 Wahrscheinlichkeiten, angewandte Mathematik
BKL-Classification:31 Mathematik
Licence (German):License LogoEs gilt das deutsche Urheberrecht: § 53 UrhG