Applying Time-Valued Knowledge for Public Health Outbreak Response

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Virginia Tech

During the early stages of any epidemic, simple interventions such as quarantine and isolation may be sufficient to halt the spread of a novel pathogen. However, should this opportunity be missed, substantially more resource-intensive, complex, and societally intrusive interventions may be required to achieve an acceptable outcome. These disparities place a differential on the value of a given unit of knowledge across the time-domains of an epidemic. Within this dissertation we explore these value-differentials via extension of the business concept of the time-value of knowledge and propose the C4 Response Model for organizing the research response to novel pathogenic outbreaks.

First, we define the C4 Response Model as a progression from an initial data-hungry collect stage, iteration between open-science-centric connect stages and machine-learning centric calibrate stages, and a final visualization-centric convey stage. Secondly we analyze the trends in knowledge-building across the stages of epidemics with regard to open and closed access article publication, referencing, and citation. Thirdly, we demonstrate a Twitter message mapping application to assess the virality of tweets as a function of their source-profile category, message category, timing, urban context, tone, and use of bots. Finally, we apply an agent-based model of influenza transmission to explore the efficacy of combined antiviral, sequestration, and vaccination interventions in mitigating an outbreak of an influenza-like-illness (ILI) within a simulated military base population.

We find that while closed access outbreak response articles use more recent citations and see higher mean citation counts, open access articles are published and referenced in significantly greater numbers and are growing in proportion. We observe that tweet viralities showed distinct heterogeneities across message and profile type pairing, that tweets dissipated rapidly across time and space, and that tweets published before high-tweet-volume time periods showed higher virality. Finally, we saw that while timely responses and strong pharmaceutical interventions showed the greatest impact in mitigating ILI transmission within a military base, even optimistic scenarios failed to prevent the majority of new cases. This body of work offers significant methodological contributions for the practice of computational epidemiology as well as a theoretical grounding for the further use of the C4 Response Model.

Epidemiology, outbreak science, open data, open science, infectious diseases, opioids, addiction, social media, twitter, agent-based modeling, influenza, influenza like illness, modeling and simulation, SEIR, preparedness, antiviral, vaccine