Effects of heterogeneous opinion interactions in many-agent systems for epidemic dynamics

S. Bonandin, M. Zanella

Netw. Heterog. Media, 19(1): 235-261, 2024.. (Preprint arXiv)

In this work we define a kinetic model for understanding the impact of heterogeneous opinion formation dynamics on epidemics. The considered many-agent system is characterized by nonsymmetric interactions which define a coupled system of kinetic equations for the evolution of the opinion density in each compartment.

In the quasi-invariant limit we may show positivity and uniqueness of the solution of the problem together with its convergence towards an equilibrium distribution exhibiting bimodal shape. The tendency of the system towards opinion clusters is further analyzed by means of numerical methods, which confirm the consistency of the kinetic model with its moment system whose evolution is approximated in several regimes of parameters.

Kinetic compartmental models driven by opinion dynamics: vaccine hesitancy and social influence

A. Bondesan, G. Toscani, M. Zanella

Math. Mod. Meth. Appl. Sci., 34(06): 1043-1076, 2024. (Preprint arXiv)

We propose a kinetic model for understanding the link between opinion formation phenomena and epidemic dynamics. The recent pandemic has brought to light that vaccine hesitancy can present different phases and temporal and spatial variations, presumably due to the different social features of individuals.

The emergence of patterns in societal reactions permits to design and predict the trends of a pandemic. This suggests that the problem of vaccine hesitancy can be described in mathematical terms, by suitably coupling a kinetic compartmental model for the spreading of an infectious disease with the evolution of the personal opinion of individuals, in the presence of leaders. The resulting model makes it possible to predict the collective compliance with vaccination campaigns as the pandemic evolves and to highlight the best strategy to set up for maximizing the vaccination coverage. We conduct numerical investigations which confirm the ability of the model to describe different phenomena related to the spread of an epidemic.

Kinetic models for epidemic dynamics in the presence of opinion polarization

M. Zanella

Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, 85(5):36, 2023. (Preprint arXiv)

Understanding the impact of collective social phenomena in epidemic dynamics is a crucial task to effectively contain the disease spread. In this work, we build a mathematical description for assessing the interplay between opinion polarization and the evolution of a disease.

The proposed kinetic approach describes the evolution of aggregate quantities characterizing the agents belonging to epidemiologically relevant states and will show that the spread of the disease is closely related to consensus dynamics distribution in which opinion polarization may emerge. In the present modelling framework, microscopic consensus formation dynamics can be linked to macroscopic epidemic trends to trigger the collective adherence to protective measures. We conduct numerical investigations which confirm the ability of the model to describe different phenomena related to the spread of an epidemic.

On the optimal control of kinetic epidemic models with uncertain social features

J. Franceschi, A. Medaglia, M. Zanella.

Optim. Contr. Appl. Meth., 45(2): 494-522, 2024. (Preprint arXiv)

It is recognized that social heterogeneities in terms of the contact distribution have a strong influence on the spread of infectious diseases. Nevertheless, few data are available and their statistical description does not possess universal patterns and may vary spatially and temporally. It is therefore essential to design optimal control strategies, mimicking the effects of non-pharmaceutical interventions, to limit efficiently the number of infected cases.

In this work, starting from a recently introduced kinetic model for epidemiological dynamics that takes into account the impact of social contacts of individuals, we consider an uncertain contact formation dynamics leading to slim-tailed as well as fat-tailed distributions of contacts. Hence, we analyse the effects of an optimal control strategy of the system of agents. Thanks to classical methods of kinetic theory, we couple uncertainty quantification methods with the introduced mathematical model to assess the effects of social limitations. Finally, using the proposed modelling approach and starting from available data, we show the effectiveness of the proposed selective measures to dampen uncertainties together with the epidemic trends.

Effects of vaccination efficacy on wealth distribution in kinetic epidemic models

E. Bernardi, L. Pareschi, G. Toscani, M. Zanella

Entropy, 22:216, 2022. (Preprint arXiv)

The spreading of Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the close link between economics and health in the context of emergency management. A widespread vaccination campaign is considered the main tool to contain the economic consequences. This paper will focus, at the level of wealth distribution modelling, on the economic improvements induced by the vaccination campaign in terms of its effectiveness rate. The economic trend during the pandemic is evaluated resorting to a mathematical model joining a classical compartmental model including vaccinated individuals with a kinetic model of wealth distribution based on binary wealth exchanges. The interplay between wealth exchanges and the progress of the infectious disease is realized by assuming on the one hand that individuals in different compartments act differently in the economic process and on the other hand that the epidemic affects risk in economic transactions. Using the mathematical tools of kinetic theory, it is possible to identify the equilibrium states of the system and the formation of inequalities due to the pandemic in the wealth distribution of the population. Numerical experiments highlight the importance of the vaccination campaign and its positive effects in reducing economic inequalities in the multi-agent society

Kinetic and macroscopic epidemic models in presence of multiple heterogeneous populations

A. Medaglia, M. Zanella

Preprint arXiv, 2021.

We study the impact of contact heterogeneity on epidemic dynamics. A system characterized by multiple susceptible populations is considered. The description of the spread of an infectious disease is obtained through the study of a system of Boltzmann-type equations for the number densities of social contacts of the introduced compartments. A macroscopic system of equations characterizing observable effects of the epidemic is then derived to assess the impact of contact heterogeneity.

Kinetic modelling of epidemic dynamics: social contacts, control with uncertain data, and multiscale spatial dynamics

G. Albi, G. Bertaglia, W. Boscheri, G. Dimarco, L. Pareschi, G. Toscani, M. Zanella.

Predicting Pandemics in a Globally Connected World Vol.1, 2022. (Preprint arXiv)

In this survey we report some recent results in the mathematical modeling of epidemic phenomena through the use of kinetic equations.

We initially consider models of interaction between agents in which social characteristics play a key role in the spread of an epidemic, such as the age of individuals, the number of social contacts, and their economic wealth. Subsequently, for such models, we discuss the possibility of containing the epidemic through an appropriate optimal control formulation based on the policy maker’s perception of the progress of the epidemic. The role of uncertainty in the data is also discussed and addressed. Finally, the kinetic modeling is extended to spatially dependent settings using multiscale transport models that can characterize the impact of movement dynamics on epidemic advancement on both one-dimensional networks and realistic two-dimensional geographic settings.

Optimal control of epidemic spreading in the presence of social heterogeneity

G. Dimarco, G. Toscani, M. Zanella

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, 380:20210160, 2022. (Preprint arXiv)

The spread of COVID-19 has been thwarted in most countries through non-pharmaceutical interventions. In particular, the most effective measures in this direction have been the stay-at-home and closure strategies of businesses and schools.

However, population-wide lockdowns are far from being optimal carrying  heavy economic consequences. Therefore, there is nowadays a strong interest in designing more efficient restrictions. In this work, starting from a recent  kinetic-type model which takes into account the heterogeneity described by the social contact of individuals, we analyze the effects of introducing an optimal control strategy into the system, to limit selectively the mean number of contacts and reduce consequently the number of infected cases. Thanks to a data-driven approach, we show that this new mathematical model permits to assess the effects of the social limitations.  Finally, using the model introduced here and starting from the available data, we show the effectivity of the proposed selective measures to dampen the epidemic trends.

A data-driven epidemic model with social structure for understanding the COVID-19 infection on a heavily affected Italian Province

M. Azzi, C. Bardelli, S. Deandrea, G. Dimarco, S. Figini, P. Perotti, G. Toscani, M. Zanella

Mathematical Models and Methods in Applied Sciences, 31(12):2533-2570, 2021. (Preprint arXiv)

In this work, using a detailed dataset furnished by National Health Authorities concerning the Province of Pavia (Lombardy, Italy), we propose to determine the essential features of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in term of contact dynamics. Our contribution is devoted to provide a possible planning of the needs of medical infrastructures in the Pavia Province and to suggest different scenarios about the vaccination campaign which possibly help in reducing the fatalities and/or reducing the number of infected in the population.
The proposed research combines a new mathematical description of the spread of an infectious diseases which takes into account both age and average daily social contacts with a detailed analysis of the dataset of all traced infected individuals in the Province of Pavia. These information are used to develop a data-driven model in which calibration and feeding of the model are extensively used. The epidemiological evolution is obtained by relying on an approach based on statical mechanics. This leads to study the evolution over time of a system of probability distributions characterizing the age and social contacts of the population. One of the main outcomes shows that, as expected, the spread of the disease is closely related to the mean number of contacts of individuals. The model permits to forecast thanks to an uncertainty quantification approach and in the short time horizon, the average number and the confidence bands of expected hospitalized classified by age and to test different options for an effective vaccination campaign with age-decreasing priority.

Kinetic models for epidemic dynamics with social heterogeneity

G. Dimarco, B. Perthame, G. Toscani, M. Zanella

Journal of Mathematical Biology, 83, 4, 2021. (Preprint arXiv)

We introduce a mathematical description of the impact of sociality in the spread of infectious diseases by integrating an epidemiological dynamics with a kinetic modeling of population-based contacts. The kinetic description leads to study the evolution over time of Boltzmann-type equa- tions describing the number densities of social contacts of susceptible, infected and recovered indi- viduals, whose proportions are driven by a classical SIR-type compartmental model in epidemiology. Explicit calculations show that the spread of the disease is closely related to moments of the con- tact distribution. Furthermore, the kinetic model allows to clarify how a selective control can be assumed to achieve a minimal lockdown strategy by only reducing individuals undergoing a very large number of daily contacts. We conduct numerical simulations which confirm the ability of the model to describe different phenomena characteristic of the rapid spread of an epidemic. Motiv- ated by the COVID-19 pandemic, a last part is dedicated to fit numerical solutions of the proposed model with infection data coming from different European countries.