WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY
Department of Mathematics & Statistics
University of North Carolina-Greensboro
Thursday, September 10, 2020
11am – 12pm
“A glimpse into behavioral epidemiology: How dynamic human behavior affects the COVID-19 pandemic”
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than 20 million cases and 800 thousand deaths worldwide to date. Neither vaccines or therapeutic drugs are currently available for this novel coronavirus. All measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are thus based on reducing contact between infected and susceptible individuals. Most of these measures such as quarantine and self-isolation require voluntary compliance by the population. Yet humans may act in their (perceived) self-interest only. We construct mathematical model of COVID-19 transmission coupled with a dynamic game model of adaptive human behavior. We model the social evolution of human behavior using imitation dynamics. Individuals adopt various behavioral strategies based on perceived prevalence and burden of the disease and sensitivity to isolation measures, and they periodically revise their strategies by imitating the strategies of other (more successful) individuals. This results in complex interplay between the epidemiological model, which affects success of different strategies, and the game-theoretic behavioral model, which in turn affects the spread of the disease. Our main findings demonstrate that the second wave of the pandemic, which has been observed in the US, can be attributed to rational behavior of susceptible individuals, and that multiple waves of the pandemic are possible if the rate of social learning of infected individuals is sufficiently high.