How a Pandemic Would Spread Through Air Routes

We’ve all heard that pathogens “don’t respect boundaries” and are “international”, both of which are absolutely true. However, if you’ve every wondered how, and how fast, researchers at Humboldt University in Berlin may have some answers. Check out their interesting model simulation below:

From io9 “Dirk Brockmann, a Professor at the Institute for Theoretical Biology at Humboldt University Berlin, and Dirk Helbing, Chair of Sociology, in particular of Modeling and Simulation, at ETH Zürich, published their paper “The Hidden Geometry of Complex, Network-Driven Contagion Phenomena” in the 13 December 2013 issue of Science. Considering the spread of H1N1 in 2009 and SARS in 2003, Brockmann and Helbing modeled how epidemics might spread through highly connected networks, notably air transit networks. Their models rely on a concept they term “effective distance,” which uses how locations are connected rather than their geographic distance to predict the spread of disease. The Brockmann Lab website explains:

‘It turns out that based on this principle we can define an effective distance related to the traffic that connects places for every pair of nodes in the network. This way we extract all nodes from their geographic embedding and represent them based on effective distance.'”

(thanks to GMU Biodefense’s Adjunct Professor Michael Dennis for passing this along)

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