Battling Epidemics & Disparity with Modeling
The Coupled Dynamics of the COVID-19 Pandemic with Social Epidemics
Policymakers are under intense pressure to respond effectively to the ongoing COVID-19 situation. Epidemiological models, which have been helpful in many previous infectious diseases’ epidemics, have been inconsistent and often incorrect in predicting burden of COVID-19 outbreak. Modelers are struggling to identify and capture appropriate drivers of the current outbreak giving conflicting conclusions. COVID-19 is not only exerting unprecedented social pressure on the vulnerable population but also its patterns are getting impacted by existing and aggravating social problems. The present article stresses the role of this dual nature of the impact of COVID-19 and suggests modelers to incorporate challenges at the interface of COVID-19 preparedness and social epidemics such as homelessness and opioid use. There is an urgent need to encourage social distancing policies to protect people and prevent the spread of the virus, while ensuring that other social crises and vulnerable populations are not ignored.