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Computer simulations to improve social measures against COVID-19

Research project by the UC3M, the BSC-CNS and the CNE


Researchers from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) have been granted funding by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (Carlos III Health Institute, ISCIII) for a research project related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19. In this context, a set of computer simulations will be carried out which will allow researchers to assess different scenarios of propagation, the effect on the climate or the effectiveness of targeted immunisation, among other things. Its results, which are expected to be obtained in the coming weeks, could help improve mitigation strategies for the virus in Spain and Europe.

Simulaciones informáticas para optimizar las medidas sociales frente al COVID-19

This research project, with funds amounting to 63,500 Euros and called “Medium- and long-term forecasting for the propagation of COVID-19”, is being developed along with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center - The National Supercomputing Centre (BSC-CNS) and the National Epidemiology Centre (CNE, in its Spanish acronym) at the ISCII. “The aim of the project is to contribute to public health preparation and response in the context of the pandemic”, explains the lead researcher, David Expósito Singh from the UC3M’s Computer, Communications and Systems Architecture (ARCOS) group.

The research will be carried out in several areas. Firstly, different propagation scenarios of COVID-19, or new epidemics, will be simulated on both a national and European scale. Secondly, the effect of implementing targeted vaccination campaigns in the population will be assessed considering factors such as the effectiveness of the vaccine and possible mutations of the coronavirus. Thirdly, the influence of climate conditions on propagation of the epidemic will be studied. Fourthly, they will aim to help develop isolation and social distancing policies for the population, analysing their effectiveness and considering both the extent and length of different periods of infection which may occur in the future and possible levels of collective immunisation.

Researchers will use Epigraph, a pre-designed and pre-validated large-scale simulator, to conduct their research. This technology tool allows them to recreate the social characteristics of different population groups (students, workers, the elderly and the unemployed), their relationships in different environments (at school, in the workplace, at home and during their free time) and a transport model that simulates the spatial dynamic of propagation of the virus between different regions. The EpiGraph also includes an interaction model between the propagation of COVID-19 and meteorological and climate factors, such as the temperature, atmospheric pressure, and humidity level.

The mission of the ISCII, from the Ministry of Science and Innovation, is to contribute to improving the health of all citizens and fight against illnesses through the promotion of research and innovation in the Health Sciences and Biomedicine and through the provision of scientific and technological services and educational programmes aimed at the Spanish National Health System.

The UC3M is a Spanish public university which excels in teaching, research, and innovation. It ranks 34th globally in the QS Top 50 Under 50 ranking and is featured in the Times Higher Education (THE) 150 Under 50. It is the top university in Spain and third in Europe for the number of students participating in the Erasmus Programme. It has more than 870 agreements with universities from 56 countries, among which are some of the best in the world, according to Shanghai Rankings’ Academic Ranking of World Universities. 20% of its students are international students. The UC3M is a partner of the Young Universities for the Future of Europe (YUFE) alliance, one of the networks selected by the EU in its European Universities Initiative. The UC3M has numerous accreditations and quality distinctions, such as the EUR-ACE label in the field of Engineering and an AACSB accreditation in Business and Finance programmes, among others.