This is the title of a paper published in Letters in Biomathematics with colleagues Anuj Mubayi, Jeff Sullivan, Oliver Diaz, Aditi Ghosh, Anamika Mubayi, Olcay Akman and Phani Veeranki. The subtitle reads: “The coupled dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic with social epidemics“. The summary is below.
Policy makers are under heavy pressure to respond effectively to the ongoing COVID-19 situation. Epidemiological models, which have been helpful in many previous infectious disease epidemics, have been inconsistent and often incorrect in predicting the burden of the COVID-19 outbreak. Modelers are struggling to identify and capture suitable drivers for the current outbreak, leading to conflicting conclusions. Not only is COVID-19 exerting unprecedented social pressures on the population at risk, but its patterns are being influenced by existing and exacerbating social problems. This article emphasizes the role of this dual nature of the impact of COVID-19 and suggests modelers to consider challenges at the interface between COVID-19 preparedness and social epidemics such as homelessness and opioid use. There is an urgent need to promote social distancing measures to keep people safe and prevent the virus from spreading while ensuring that other social crises and vulnerable populations are not ignored.
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