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Socially Impactful Computational Modelling Helps Eliminate Infectious Diseases


When the COVID-19 outbreak first started in early 2020, no one, even the scientists, knew much about the virus and how it was transmitted. To analyse the transmission patterns of the disease among different populations, Dr. Yang Liu, Assistant Professor of the Department of Computer Science, HKBU, and his research team quickly initiated a modelling study to examine the spread of the disease through computational modelling and AI technology.

Launched in February 2020, the study is one of the first modelling studies on COVID-19 in the world. Dr. Liu and his team carried out the study by discussing with the experts from China CDC (Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and using the data collecting from governmental websites, such as The Health Commission of Hubei Province and the Beijing Municipal Health Commission, and developed a computational method to measure the contact intensity between people from spatial and temporal perspectives.

“Different from many existing disease modellings which focus on predicting the total number of cases in the future, what we are exploring is the intrinsic transmission pattern of the disease,” says Dr. Liu. The modelling can also simulate the situations when different intervention strategies applied. “With such simulated data, the public health authorities and decision makers can choose the most appropriate strategy to control the disease or stop its spread.”

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