A COVID-19 simulator created by the University of Hull’s Logistics Institute helps people better understand the impact of leaving lockdown on future cases.
The COVID-19 Resurgence Simulator assesses how easing lockdown measures over different timescales could affect the chances of a second spike of the virus.
As well as providing a valuable educational tool, the simulator is being used by partner organisations as far away as Canada and Africa.
Amar Ramudhin, Director at the Logistics Institute at the University of Hull, said: “In recent weeks, we have seen the topic of conversation surrounding COVID-19 move to easing lockdown restrictions, and people returning to work.
“Everyone is talking about the risk of coming out of lockdown, and whether we could see a second spike in cases of COVID-19, so we decided to create a simulator which would help model that.
“We found simulating a more localised area – for instance an urban environment – was much more accurate than trying to simulate the whole country. The bigger the area, the more assumptions you have to make in the simulator, and it actually ends up closer to voodoo magic than science.”
The simulator features a variety of adjustable parameters.
They include the population of the area affected, the initial number of people infected, the proportion of the population tested for COVID-19, and the likelihood of the virus being spread from one person to another.
It also allows the user to modify the start and end date of lockdown, to simulate how different time periods could impact the number of cases.
The Logistics Institute has partnered up with Canadian healthcare company MUUTAA, who are using the simulator to increase understanding of COVID-19.
Mr Ramudhin said discussions were also ongoing in Morocco to customise the simulator for local use, where communities may be struggling with a lack of technology or data.
He said: “We want this simulator to help people understand the reality of what COVID-19 is.
“Unfortunately, this pandemic has not gone away – if we go back to normal before a vaccine has been tested and approved, there is always going to be the risk of a second spike in cases.
“The simulator offers a brilliant educational tool, and puts into perspective how complex this situation is.”
For more information on the simulator, or to try it out yourself, visit https://www.hull.ac.uk/work-with-us/research/institutes/logistics-institute/our-work/covid-19-resurgence-simulator.
[Phil Winter – University of Hull]