In March 2020, a multidisciplinary task force (so-called Basque Modelling Task Force, BMTF) was created to assist the Basque health managers and Government during the COVID-19 responses. BMTF is a modelling team, working on different approaches, including stochastic processes, statistical methods and artificial intelligence.
The Scientific Reports Journal, open access journal part of Nature Research journals, has published this paper where the team describes the efforts and challenges to develop a flexible modeling framework able to describe the dynamics observed for the tested positive cases, including the modelling development steps.
The results obtained by a new stochastic SHARUCD model framework are presented. These models differentiate mild and asymptomatic from severe infections prone to be hospitalized and were able to predict the course of the epidemic, providing important projections on the national health system’s necessities during the increased population demand on hospital admissions.
Short and longer-term predictions were tested with good results adjusted to the available epidemiological data. It has been shown that the partial lockdown measures were effective and enough to slow down disease transmission in the Basque Country. The growth rate λ was calculated from the model and from the data and the implications for the reproduction ratio R are shown. The analysis of the growth rates from the data led to improved model versions describing after the exponential phase also the new information obtained during the phase of response to the control measures. This framework was used to monitor disease transmission while the country lockdown was gradually lifted, with insights to specific programs for a general policy of “social distancing” and home quarantining.