Discontinuous epidemic transition due to limited testing

Scarselli D, Budanur NB, Timme M, Hof B. 2021. Discontinuous epidemic transition due to limited testing. Nature Communications. 12(1), 2586.

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Abstract
High impact epidemics constitute one of the largest threats humanity is facing in the 21st century. In the absence of pharmaceutical interventions, physical distancing together with testing, contact tracing and quarantining are crucial in slowing down epidemic dynamics. Yet, here we show that if testing capacities are limited, containment may fail dramatically because such combined countermeasures drastically change the rules of the epidemic transition: Instead of continuous, the response to countermeasures becomes discontinuous. Rather than following the conventional exponential growth, the outbreak that is initially strongly suppressed eventually accelerates and scales faster than exponential during an explosive growth period. As a consequence, containment measures either suffice to stop the outbreak at low total case numbers or fail catastrophically if marginally too weak, thus implying large uncertainties in reliably estimating overall epidemic dynamics, both during initial phases and during second wave scenarios.
Publishing Year
Date Published
2021-05-10
Journal Title
Nature Communications
Acknowledgement
The authors thank Malte Schröder for valuable discussions and creating the scale-free network topologies. B.H. thanks Mukund Vasudevan for helpful discussion. The research by M.T. was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) under Germany´s Excellence Strategy–EXC-2068–390729961–Cluster of Excellence Physics of Life of TU Dresden.
Volume
12
Issue
1
Article Number
2586
eISSN
IST-REx-ID

Cite this

Scarselli D, Budanur NB, Timme M, Hof B. Discontinuous epidemic transition due to limited testing. Nature Communications. 2021;12(1). doi:10.1038/s41467-021-22725-9
Scarselli, D., Budanur, N. B., Timme, M., & Hof, B. (2021). Discontinuous epidemic transition due to limited testing. Nature Communications. Springer Nature. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-22725-9
Scarselli, Davide, Nazmi B Budanur, Marc Timme, and Björn Hof. “Discontinuous Epidemic Transition Due to Limited Testing.” Nature Communications. Springer Nature, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-22725-9.
D. Scarselli, N. B. Budanur, M. Timme, and B. Hof, “Discontinuous epidemic transition due to limited testing,” Nature Communications, vol. 12, no. 1. Springer Nature, 2021.
Scarselli D, Budanur NB, Timme M, Hof B. 2021. Discontinuous epidemic transition due to limited testing. Nature Communications. 12(1), 2586.
Scarselli, Davide, et al. “Discontinuous Epidemic Transition Due to Limited Testing.” Nature Communications, vol. 12, no. 1, 2586, Springer Nature, 2021, doi:10.1038/s41467-021-22725-9.
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