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September 30, 2021 Thursday 06:04:01 PM IST

Covid-19- New Model to Optimize Vaccines and Social Distancing

Every country in the world these days must make smart decisions about how to allocate vaccines and what sort of social distancing to mandate to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Ben-Gurion University of the Negev scientists have constructed a model that policymakers can use to simulate their choices and find the optimal one.

"Our model can tell you, for instance, whether it makes more sense to vaccinate the elderly and demand more social distancing from adults or vice versa," says Dr. Shai Pilosof from BGU’s department of Life Sciences in the Faculty of Natural Sciences. 

Their model was published recently in the peer-reviewed PLOS Computational Biology. 

Every country has different considerations – some have ample supplies of vaccines, while others have only limited supplies. The new model can help calibrate vaccine deployment and social distancing. For example, according to their model, vaccinating the elderly and imposing social distancing mandates on adults is generally more effective than forcing the elderly to stay home and vaccinating the adults. 

Prof. Nadav Davidovitch, Director, School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences and Chair, Israeli Public Health Physicians Association, Member of the Israeli National Expert Committee on COVID19 and Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region Task Force: “The current COVID-19 global situation demands a multi-layered response. Vaccines are an essential component but it is clear that different contexts such as population characteristics and vaccine availability, together with the dynamic changes in disease spread, demand crucial decision-making on strategies and priorities. Our model can be applied by different countries to simulate and optimize responses." 

Additional researchers at BGU included: Sharon Guerstein and Ma'ayan Dekel of the Department of Life Sciences; Oren Miron of the School of Public Health; Dr. Rami Puzis of the Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering. Dr. Victoria Romeo-Aznar of The University of Chicago and the University of Buenos Aires also contributed to the research.