How to Model for The Next Pandemic

Wildfires, not hurricanes, are pushing people out.

How to Model for The Next Pandemic
Photo by Liza Pooor / Unsplash

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Epidemiologists And Economists Need to Model The Next Pandemic

The declining faith in public health through the COVID-19 pandemic is often attributed to quick twists and turns in policy around hot button issues such as quarantines, mask mandates and state-at-home orders.

But much of the upheaval around quickly morphing and sometimes contradictory restrictions could have been avoided if the scientific disciplines of epidemiology and economics worked closely together on cohesive and complementary models, new research argues.

According to new paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, while both scientific disciplines use the same basic mathematical tools, the models they develop rely on different assumptions and lead to different and conflicting policies.

Those differences can be overcome understanding the data and limitations of both economics and epidemiology and then working together to "build models that incorporate each group’s most essential priorities and communicate results to decision-makers in a consistent fashion."

As a result of these differing approaches, a policymaker attempting to “follow the science” is therefore left with two different sets of modeling results—one from an epidemiological perspective that lacks explicit consideration of economic outcomes or individual health-wealth tradeoffs, and one with an economic framing that omits important features of disease dynamics and linkage of policy to health outcomes. What is missing for decision-makers is a sense of how to compare or trade-off these results.

Bothe sciences to move together now to build a consensus approach to pandemic modeling, the researchers argue.

... these discussions would need to begin before the next pandemic occurs. The winners of this sort of dialogue are policymakers and the public at large.

Wildfires Are Pushing People Out More Than Hurricanes

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Photo by Intricate Explorer / Unsplash

Previous research has shown that despite the increase in hurricane activity around the US coastline, there show little sign of homeowners "migrating" away to avoid the increased risk.

But a report issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland finds that the same may not be true for the increasing part of the US population at risk of wildfire.

According to the report, there is a small but significant drop in homeownership among those areas hit by major fires in the US between 1999 and 2018 and that the individuals over 60 are the most likely to to permanently relocate. The researchers added that the migration was most pronounced among the largest wildfire of the period.

Analysis of the single most destructive wildfire in our dataset, the 2018 Camp Fire, illustrates the sharpest increase in out-migration, with an average of 7 additional out-migrants per 100 residents per quarter in the two years following the event. These findings contrast with prior research on non-wildfire rapid-onset environmental hazards, which has generally found that such events have little effect on migration

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