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Do ArXiv, a ser lido em tempos de pandemia:

Probing the Improbable: Methodological Challenges for Risks with Low Probabilities and High Stakes

Toby Ord, Rafaela Hillerbrand, Anders Sandberg
(Submitted on 30 Oct 2008)
Some risks have extremely high stakes. For example, a worldwide pandemic or asteroid impact could potentially kill more than a billion people. Comfortingly, scientific calculations often put very low probabilities on the occurrence of such catastrophes. In this paper, we argue that there are important new methodological problems which arise when assessing global catastrophic risks and we focus on a problem regarding probability estimation. When an expert provides a calculation of the probability of an outcome, they are really providing the probability of the outcome occurring, given that their argument is watertight. However, their argument may fail for a number of reasons such as a flaw in the underlying theory, a flaw in the modeling of the problem, or a mistake in the calculations. If the probability estimate given by an argument is dwarfed by the chance that the argument itself is flawed, then the estimate is suspect. We develop this idea formally, explaining how it differs from the related distinctions of model and parameter uncertainty. Using the risk estimates from the Large Hadron Collider as a test case, we show how serious the problem can be when it comes to catastrophic risks and how best to address it.

Quantifying the transmission potential of pandemic influenza

This article reviews quantitative methods to estimate the basic reproduction number of pandemic influenza, a key threshold quantity to help determine the intensity of interventions required to control the disease. Although it is difficult to assess the transmission potential of a probable future pandemic, historical epidemiologic data is readily available from previous pandemics, and as a reference quantity for future pandemic planning, mathematical and statistical analyses of historical data are crucial. In particular, because many historical records tend to document only the temporal distribution of cases or deaths (i.e. epidemic curve), our review focuses on methods to maximize the utility of time-evolution data and to clarify the detailed mechanisms of the spread of influenza. First, we highlight structured epidemic models and their parameter estimation method which can quantify the detailed disease dynamics including those we cannot observe directly. Duration-structured epidemic systems are subsequently presented, offering firm understanding of the definition of the basic and effective reproduction numbers. When the initial growth phase of an epidemic is investigated, the distribution of the generation time is key statistical information to appropriately estimate the transmission potential using the intrinsic growth rate. Applications of stochastic processes are also highlighted to estimate the transmission potential using the similar data. Critically important characteristics of influenza data are subsequently summarized, followed by our conclusions to suggest potential future methodological improvements.
Comments:79 pages (revised version), 3 figures; added 1 table and minor revisions were made in the main text; to appear in Physics of Life Reviews; Gerardo's website (this http URL), Hiroshi's website (this http URL)
Subjects:Populations and Evolution (q-bio.PE)
Cite as:arXiv:0711.3088v2 [q-bio.PE]


Modeling the Worldwide Spread of Pandemic Influenza: Baseline Case and Containment Interventions

We present a study of the worldwide spread of a pandemic influenza and its possible containment at a global level taking into account all available information on air travel. We studied a metapopulation stochastic epidemic model on a global scale that considers airline travel flow data among urban areas. We provided a temporal and spatial evolution of the pandemic with a sensitivity analysis of different levels of infectiousness of the virus and initial outbreak conditions (both geographical and seasonal). For each spreading scenario we provided the timeline and the geographical impact of the pandemic in 3,100 urban areas, located in 220 different countries. We compared the baseline cases with different containment strategies, including travel restrictions and the therapeutic use of antiviral (AV) drugs. We show that the inclusion of air transportation is crucial in the assessment of the occurrence probability of global outbreaks. The large-scale therapeutic usage of AV drugs in all hit countries would be able to mitigate a pandemic effect with a reproductive rate as high as 1.9 during the first year; with AV supply use sufficient to treat approximately 2% to 6% of the population, in conjunction with efficient case detection and timely drug distribution. For highly contagious viruses (i.e., a reproductive rate as high as 2.3), even the unrealistic use of supplies corresponding to the treatment of approximately 20% of the population leaves 30%-50% of the population infected. In the case of limited AV supplies and pandemics with a reproductive rate as high as 1.9, we demonstrate that the more cooperative the strategy, the more effective are the containment results in all regions of the world, including those countries that made part of their resources available for global use.
Comments:16 pages
Subjects:Other (q-bio.OT); Statistical Mechanics (cond-mat.stat-mech); Physics and Society (physics.soc-ph)
Journal reference:PLoS Med 4(1): e13. (2007)
DOI:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040013
Cite as:arXiv:q-bio/0701038v1 [q-bio.OT]


A Simple Cellular Automaton Model for Influenza A Viral Infections

Viral kinetics have been extensively studied in the past through the use of spatially homogeneous ordinary differential equations describing the time evolution of the diseased state. However, spatial characteristics such as localized populations of dead cells might adversely affect the spread of infection, similar to the manner in which a counter-fire can stop a forest fire from spreading. In order to investigate the influence of spatial heterogeneities on viral spread, a simple 2-D cellular automaton (CA) model of a viral infection has been developed. In this initial phase of the investigation, the CA model is validated against clinical immunological data for uncomplicated influenza A infections. Our results will be shown and discussed.
Comments:LaTeX, 12 pages, 18 EPS figures, uses document class ReTeX4, and packages amsmath and SIunits
Subjects:Cell Behavior (q-bio.CB); Quantitative Methods (q-bio.QM)
Journal reference:Journal of Theoretical Biology, 232(2), 21 January 2005, pp. 223-234
DOI:10.1016/j.jtbi.2004.08.001
Cite as:arXiv:q-bio/0402012v1 [q-bio.CB]

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