Madhav Marathe has extensive experience in modelling and studying infectious diseases. His group has supported almost every outbreak response in the US since 2002, including planning for the H5N1 in 2005, H1N1 in 2009, MERS in 2012, Ebola in 2014 and Zika in 2015. In this interview he describes the challenges of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and discusses India’s potential response. He is an endowed Distinguished Professor in Biocomplexity, Director of the Network Systems Science and Advanced Computing (NSSAC) Division, Biocomplexity Institute and Initiative at the University of Virginia, and an alumnus of IIT Madras.What is the challenge in modelling or studying a pandemic, COVID-19 in particular?Covid-19 presents a number of new challenges in my opinion. In this case, three things happened: (1) The pandemic started in a densely populated region of the world unlike Ebola, which started near Liberia in West Africa; (2) Unlike West Africa, China is much more strongly connected with the world, in terms of economic activity and human mobility; and (3) the incubation period of the disease is longer than many other flu viruses. Moreover, a large number of people – the silent spreaders – don’t show any symptoms at all while being infectious…. Read full this story
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