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Tuesday 2nd November 2021 to Friday 5th November 2021


Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, modelling has taken centre stage both in forecasting, policy formulation and in informing the public, featuring prominently in the advice given to government in the UK and beyond. The pandemic has had profound influence on social and economic activity, meaning that different policy interventions such as lockdowns and furlough schemes cannot be seen as merely public health policies or as economic policies in isolation. It is therefore important to better understand how policies interact through intertwined economic and disease dynamics and how different policies must be designed to work together.
It is widely acknowledged that mathematical modelling of epidemics needs to formally include behaviour – not as an afterthought, but as an integral part of the modelling itself. However, there are significant challenges in incorporating the dynamics of behaviour in infectious diseases models. There are complexities in synthesising data from disparate data sources reporting on behaviours (for example, surveys, apps and mobility data) into a format useable in existing model structures. Our understanding remains incomplete of what drives the behavioural responses we observe, predicting the impact of health campaigns and the level of detail necessary to enable robust assessments to be provided to policy makers.
A successful integration of behaviour into epidemiological models would allow both modellers and policy makers to not only assess how different interventions will likely play out in practice, but also guide the policy making process itself, indicating which policies are likely to lead to greater health and socio-economic wellbeing. Advancements require collective engagement across disciplines, including behavioural scientists, epidemiologists, public health modellers, economic epidemiologists and those involved in public health policy.  
This event series is guided by links with the JUNIPER Consortium and is delivered by the RAMP Continuity Network, the follow on to the Royal Society’s Rapid Assistance in Modelling the Pandemic (RAMP) initiative. It brings together modelling expertise from a diverse range of disciplines to support the pandemic modelling community already working on Covid-19. The RAMP Continuity Network is helping to deliver a series of meetings, workshops and virtual study groups to take forward promising and relevant areas of research.

Aims and Objectives

The landscape in terms of typical models and approaches has changed drastically over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a need for modelling that intersects research disciplines. Yet, neglecting the behavioural heterogeneities in the public response to public health interventions may weaken reliability in disease outbreak projections. To underpin model advancements, theoretical frameworks for understanding public responses to official advice during a public health incident may be used and converted into a mathematical formulation. We also require reliable and robust empirical observations of behavioural response, which demands data pipelines that consolidate the various data flows into model-compatible forms in a timely manner. It is now time to explore further the issues around modelling behaviour, helping to instruct data, methodological and reporting needs for future pandemic preparedness.
This event series was spread across three half-day virtual workshops. We envisage these science meetings bringing together the relevant scientific communities with those involved in policy formation to maximise the potential for interaction and collaboration. The three half day workshops were:

Understanding Behaviours

Tuesday 2nd November 2021, 13.30-16.30
This workshop overviewed relevant behavioural frameworks that may be used to describe our behaviour to public health events. It also presented analyses of pre-pandemic and contemporary datasets that capture behavioural characteristics, highlighting challenges in translating different types of data flows into meaningful framings for modelling.

  • Ed Hill posted this very informative thread on Twitter after the event with references and publications associated with the talks that were given.


Integrating Behaviours into Models

Thursday 4th November 2021, 13.30-16.30
Our second workshop showcased examples of mechanistic modelling frameworks that interface with behavioural dynamics, which can be responsive to control policy, perceived risk and individual heterogeneity.

  • Ed Hill posted another very useful Twitter thread with references linked to the talks that were given.


Using Behavioural Models to Inform Policy

Friday 5th November 2021, 13.30-16.30
Detailed, well-parameterised mathematical models are important to aid planning and policy decisions. The event series concluded with a focus on how modelling used in the COVID-19 policy arena has sought to tackle challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic interventions having impacted on all aspects of society, with a need to mitigate harms across multiple sectors.

  • Ed Hill posted a third very useful Twitter thread with references linked to the talks that were given.

Each afternoon workshop incorporated Q&A discussion sessions and each morning prior to the events, a Coffee Session to enable initial interactions and networking. We hoped to encourage and enable conversations between epidemiologists and public health modellers, enabling engagement with those who model behaviours, design policies, as well as with economic epidemiologists. The final Q&A discussion on Friday 5th November looked to make recommendations and highlight areas where potential co-working/collaboration might happen.

Programme and Registration

Registrations for this event have now closed.

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