Pune University scientists work on model to predict scenes after coronavirus lockdown

Pranita Roy
Friday, 10 April 2020

"Once the lockdown is over and people start moving around, then there are chances of the virus spreading. So through mathematics, we are trying to analyse two situations, one when there was no contact among humans and the other when post lockdown the human contact increases." — Bhalchandra Pujari, scientist.

PUNE: Two scientists of Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) have collaborated with scientists from national science institutes to develop a model to predict post coronavirus lockdown scenarios.

SPPU’s Centre for Modeling and Simulation (CMS) faculty members Bhalchandra Pujari and Snehal Shekatkar were invited to lead a modelling effort of pan-India scientists group called ‘Indian scientists’ response to COVID-19’ (ISRC).

Currently, scientists of three institutes - Indian Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai, Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru and SPPU - are working on it.

Shekatkar and Pujari’s role is to draw mathematical algorithms to provide data on how the government bodies can prepare themselves for post lockdown scenarios.

“Through mathematical modelling, we are trying to understand how this disease will propagate amongst the population in the future. Like previously, we had H1N1; similarly, there may be some other disease that will come out later,” said Pujari.

“Unfortunately, no such device has been developed so far. However, understanding the demography and population of our country, an accurate model can’t be developed. Still, a predictive model can help the government bodies and policymakers to brace themselves for such health emergencies,” Pujari told Sakal Times.

"The scientists are studying sudden reactions once the lockdown gets over. Pujari revealed that they would also study how the lockdown should be lifted - phase-wise or lift it entirely or whether only important cities remain shut,” he said.

Pujari stated that soon the report on prediction of post lockdown scenario would be released on the ISRC website. The focus is on long-term modelling framework that can predict the spread of any future epidemic other than COVID-19. 

Last month, Pujari and Shekatkar had developed a mathematical model to predict the spread of the disease by investigating transport links. 

“We observed 350 cities in the country which have a strong railway and airport communication and predicted scenarios. We indeed found out that it was necessary to shut down the transport network for effective measures. It was coincidental that the State and Central governments soon had suspended all the transport facilities,” said Pujari.

OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

  • To develop a tool for policymakers, who can use it to be prepared for situations like COVID-19 even in the future
  • The tool will provide data on what measures and infrastructure are required to combat a particular disease
  • It can also help them in taking decisions on topics like - when to impose lockdown, for how many days it can be implemented etc.

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