The Lehendakari, Iñigo Urkullu, and the Ministers for Education and Health, Cristina Uriarte and Nekane Murga, received today in Vitoria-Gasteiz the research team from the Basque Centre for Applied Mathematics (BCAM) that has been collaborating with the Department of Health and Osakidetza, since March, in the mathematical modelling of the epidemic caused by COVID-19 within the BMFT - Basque Modelling Task Force COVID-19, promoted by the Department of Education and the Department of Health of the Basque Government.
This international team of researchers from BCAM, the University of the Basque Country and Ikerbasque has prepared periodic reports with the predictions of various indicators of interest such as the number of hospitalisations, ICU admissions or the number of people infected, for the Basque Autonomous Community and its main Integrated Healthcare Organisations (IHOs) with the aim of providing the administrations with information for decision-making, as well as support in the day-to-day running of the hospitals in the management of this healthcare crisis.
During the meeting held in Ajuria Enea, both the Lehendakari and the ministers wanted to show their gratitude to BCAM’s research team, highlighting the contribution of scientific research of excellence to the health management of the pandemic in the Basque Country.
This assessment coincides with that obtained a month ago by the Department of Health and Osakidetza, which underlined the "rigour" of the information provided by this group of researchers.
The meeting was also attended by the Deputy Minister of Universities and Research, Adolfo Morais, and the Director of Organisational Innovation and Management of the Basque Foundation for Health Research and Innovation (BIOEF), Iñaki Gutierrez. The Scientific Director of the center, J.A. Lozano (BCAM-UPV/EHU); the General Manager, Lorea Gómez; and the researchers Dae-Jin Lee, Maria Xosé Rodriguez (BCAM - Ikerbasque), Inma Arostegui (BCAM-UPV/EHU) and Onintze Zaballa have participated on behalf of BCAM. The authorities gratitude has also been extended to the members of the team working from Italy, Maíra Aguiar (BCAM-Ikerbasque) and Nico Stollenwerk (University of Trento).
Since the beginning of the health crisis caused by the COVID-19 BCAM has made its experience and knowledge in mathematical modelling available to the administration in order to provide daily information and estimates on the evolution of the pandemic in the Basque Country. Specifically, on the number of expected hospital admissions and, among them, those requiring ICU care.
The working group on COVID-19 is made up of experts in various disciplines such as Data Science, Artificial Intelligence and Mathematical Modelling in Biology. Through epidemiological models (SIR and extensions), operational research and Gaussian processes, this team of researchers has managed to describe the dynamics and impact of the pandemic, and has characterized the process of infection of the disease and its evolution over time. Their results were validated with data on the incidence of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Basque Country, data on hospital admissions, ICU and mortality provided by Osakidetza. Currently, they continue working on evaluating the effect of the containment measures carried out with the aim of monitoring the impact of their progressive relaxation.
BCAM has also made available on its website a prediction report on the evolution of COVID-19 in the Basque Country, which contemplates two different time horizons: one in the short term, until June 5th, and another in the long term, until July 31st. This report is regularly updated with data provided by Osakidetza.
The document includes the prediction results of the three models developed by researchers from BCAM, the UPV/EHU and Ikerbasque together with the health institutions of the Basque Country on different variables of interest such as the number of hospitalizations or deaths. These predictions can also be seen in some interactive graphics published on the center’s website.
Given the economic and social impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, BCAM proposes to continue contributing, focusing its fundamental research capacities, to strengthen the fight against the disease and contribute to recovery and to minimize possible future impacts.
In this sense, with the support of the Regional Ministry of Education through Ikerbasque, the center plans to continue with the projects initiated and to launch new research projects in the field of artificial intelligence.