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Colloquium – Yong Yeol Ahn, Indiana University
Network epidemiology and effectiveness of contact tracing
Epidemic spreading is fundamentally a network process because many infectious diseases spread through human interactions. This talk will explain key insights from network epidemiology and highlight a recent discovery about contact tracing. Although contact tracing has been one of the most widely employed methods for controlling an epidemic, the determinants of its efficacy have not been fully understood. I will explain why ‘backward’ tracing (tracing from whom disease spreads) can be profoundly more effective than ‘forward’ tracing (tracing to whom disease spreads) due to the nature of contact networks. I will also show that, even if the directionality of infection is unknown, it is possible to perform “backward-aiming” contact tracing. Combined with new, rapid digital contact tracing, our results may improve the effectiveness of contact tracing.