Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Anarchy, air travel and contagion

A new paper by Nicolaides and colleagues looks, in great detail (as this group, who have previously published travel-related contagion modelling, does) at the spread of a disease due to human movement and how the choices made about that movement could help or hinder its spread.

They point to the dilemma of policy makers for the next big outbreak. Should they:

  1. Restrict/redirect the freedom of an individual's movements in order to benefit the whole - limit rapid disease spread and possibly contain its spread
  2. Allow anarchy/a loss of social welfare - in this context, by travelling anywhere during and through regions of transmission - acting as a vector to inoculate susceptible populations as they go.
Trying to implement a system of reduced or rerouted mobility in a heat of a pandemic will probably meet with considerable resistance  

Should policy makers see the benefits to containing a significant disease outbreak in this way, here's hoping for lots of education of the population...starting soon.