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  • Modelling Behaviour to Inform Policy for Pandemics, 2nd, 4th & 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.

This event series is spread across three half-day virtual workshops, each running from 13.30 - 16.30:

  • Understanding Behaviours,  2nd November 2021

  • Integrating Behaviours into Models,  4th November 2021

  • Using Behavioural Models to Inform Policy, 5th November 2021.

  • Recovery from the Pandemic: Hospitality & Leisure, 12th - 14th October 2021

This three-day virtual study group run by V-KEMS brought mathematical scientists and other disciplines together to solve challenges faced by the hospitality and leisure sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The UK leisure industry as a whole has met some unprecedented challenges over the course of the pandemic, and will continue to do so as the nation recovers. We are interested in using mathematics as a tool to help solve the particular challenges hotels, restaurants and leisure facilities, such as cinemas, gyms and museums, are facing as a result of the pandemic.

Unlike in previous study groups where the main focus was on modelling the spread of the infection, the theme of this event was about recovery from the pandemic with more of a focus on dealing with the operational difficulties and economic implications which have arisen.

  • Understanding the Generation Time for COVID-19,  28th - 30th July 2021

The generation time of COVID-19 is the duration between the moment a person gets infected to the moment they infect another person (i.e. it’s the time between primary and secondary infection). This is very important in the context of new variants which may have different generation times, which in turn would have implications for the estimates of the R number. The generation time is also important for the evolution of new variants.This workshop will focus on understanding the different factors which affect the generation time, as well as the interaction between these, which will be important to be able to better assess what aspects of new variants may be of concern.

The aim of this event was to hear talks related to each of the factors affecting the generation time, to try to understand current work and thinking in each area and in turn to try to identify how these may be more joined up. A key goal of this event was to build links between epidemic modellers and the wider modelling community with interests in COVID-19, such as within-host modelling teams – including, but not limited to members of RAMP-initiated projects.

  • Virtual Study Group - Covid-19 Safety in Large Events 13th - 15th July 2021

Since April 2021, VKEMS (Virtual Forum for Knowledge Exchange in the Mathematical Sciences) has delivered a series of Virtual Study Groups considering minimising risk / impact of COVID-19 in a range of scenarios (including train travel, opening up higher education and the impact on cardiovascular waiting lists).

As part of the RAMP continuity work, V-KEMS is undertaking a series of Virtual Study Groups. 
The first looked at COVID Safety in Large Events. This three-day event brought mathematical scientists and other disciplines together to solve end user-defined challenges. Since the event, participants have collaborated to develop a working paper. More information can also be seen in this article.

  • New Models of Spatial and Social Behaviour in a Pandemic, 26th - 27th May 2021

This two-day science meeting brought together two longer term research activities – urban analytics and human dynamics in small spaces. These RAMP-initiated projects are inter-related and differ mainly in terms of geographical scale. This event therefore helped fulfil a key aim to maintain strong communication links between them, as well as extending to other relevant communities around COVID-19. It will also seek to continue to gain further insights as lockdown restrictions are loosened in the coming months in order to provide supporting evidence and assistance to the scientists advising the government on national and local policy responses using urban analytics and spatial modelling. There are important implications for extending these models to embrace key social and economic issues that result from the pandemic and will be explored through future workshops.

The event included the following sessions:

•    Micro modelling and simulation
•    Spatial epidemic modelling
•    Stakeholders perspectives.

  • Environmental and Aerosol Transmission of COVID-19, 26th - 28th April 2021

Better understanding of the transmission of COVID-19 is a key factor in managing risk and designing practical interventions. With the reduction of lockdown restrictions over the next few months, insights into areas such as the role of ventilation and the impact of people moving around within buildings are particularly timely.

Building on the work begun by RAMP, this three-day science meeting reviewed existing work and identify where further research is most urgently needed. The meeting included a standalone public-facing component providing an accessible overview of the latest science, alongside scientific talks and discussion sessions targeting active researchers.
The aims of the meeting were to bring together a wide range of participants to maximise the engagement from different communities, better inform the public on the science underlying viral transmission & progress the most promising areas of research, and reach consensus on future research directions and research activity.

  • Evolutionary Implications of the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, 19th & 20th April 2021

The COVID-19 vaccine is currently being rolled out in the UK and globally, but there is a limited supply available. Therefore, countries are having to prioritise which subgroups of the population will receive the vaccine first. For example, in the UK vaccination has been targeted at the older age groups, health-care workers and those that are at greater risk of needing hospitalisation as a result of contracting COVID-19. Such a strategy is focused on reducing disease rather than transmission, since currently the impacts of the vaccine on blocking transmission are still uncertain.

This workshop focused on the use of quantitative modelling approaches to understand the evolutionary implications of vaccination programmes. Such approaches are key to developing optimal vaccination strategies and understanding which subgroups in society should be prioritised for vaccination against COVD-19. A key goal of this event was to build links between epidemic modellers and the wider modelling community with interests in COVID-19, such as within-host modelling teams – including, but not limited to members of RAMP-initiated projects.​