Adaptive modelling for a novel virus: reflections on COVID-19 in South Africa
SARS-CoV-2 is the most disruptive virus the world has faced in the last century. In the absence of previous experience, knowledge of the behaviour of this disease and the impact of measures of control, mathematical modelling and other analytical approaches have played a significant role in the global response to the pandemic. Due to the rapidly changing nature of the outbreak globally and in South Africa, mathematical models were updated regularly as new data became available. Changes in testing policy, contact tracing, and hospitalisation criteria all impacted the cases detected, treated and fatalities as well as the required budget for the COVID-19 response. This seminar will follow the development of the National COVID-19 Epi Model (NCEM) from the start of the epidemic to date, reflecting on changes in assumptions and lessons learnt. The presentation will end with considerations for modelling and policy on COVID-19 in the future.
Professor Sheetal Silal, MASHA and UCT
Professor Sheetal Silal is Director of the Modelling and Simulation Hub, Africa (MASHA) and Associate Professor in the Department of Statistical Sciences at the University of Cape Town (UCT). She is an Honorary Visiting Research Fellow in Tropical Disease Modelling at the Nuffield Department of Medicine at Oxford University. She received a PhD in Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases in 2014 from UCT. Her research has focused on the development and application of mathematical models to malaria, pertussis, syphilis, COVID-19, and other infectious diseases in South Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and globally, with a focus on using mathematical models to predict the dynamics and control of diseases to evaluate the potential impact of control programmes in reducing morbidity and mortality, and supporting policy development. Prof Sheetal Silal is leading the development of COVID-19 transmission models as part of the South African COVID-19 Modelling Consortium. The Modelling Consortium consists of a group of researchers from academic, non-profit, and government institutions across South Africa, who provide, assess and validate model projections to be used for planning purposes by the Government of South Africa.