Let's take a look into the near future: What else is planned?
Johanna Schneider: We have already started to improve the prediction of the spread of Covid-19 in Germany. At the moment, the EpideMSE tool is used to simulate the epidemic for all people in one area together. In the next step, however, we want to additionally divide the population into age groups and take their different infection risks into account in the prediction. Furthermore, the effects of the epidemic course will be evaluated closer to the health care system, i.e. the prediction will also include the burden on intensive care units.
Michael Helmling: We also expect a significant improvement in the quality of prediction by linking regions. Perhaps a typical commuter city may have few new infections today, but tomorrow this could easily be different if new infections are brought by commuters. And this also applies vice versa, of course. Mobility is a crucial factor in the spread of infections and we want to incorporate this into the EpideMSE tool.
Finally, a look into the further future: In which areas could the tool's methods still be helpful?
Neele Leithäuser: Germany is currently in a phase in which we had to react quickly and decisively to the Corona crisis. However, researchers suspect that the SARS-CoV-2 virus will not disappear and that we must expect a second wave of infection in autumn. We want to support the preparations for combating the next wave of infection. To this end, we are developing mathematically strategies as to where and with which groups of people to test for corona in order to make the most efficient use of the available testing capacities. The same applies to the hoped-for case that a vaccine is developed. Here too, apart from the ethical question, the logistical question arises as to which groups of people should be vaccinated first and where. A question that can be answered very well with mathematics.