Social Learning in a Network Model of COVID-19

56 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2020 Last revised: 19 Apr 2021

See all articles by Allan Davids

Allan Davids

University of Cape Town (UCT)

Gideon du Rand

Stellenbosch University

Co-Pierre Georg

University of Cape Town; Deutsche Bundesbank

Tina Koziol

University of Cape Town (UCT)

Joeri Schasfoort

University of Cape Town

Date Written: July 29, 2020

Abstract

This paper studies the effects of social learning on the transmission of COVID-19 in a network model. We calibrate our model to detailed data for Cape Town, South Africa and show that the inclusion of social learning improves the prediction of excess fatalities, reducing the best-fit squared difference from 20.06 to 11.28. The inclusion of social learning both flattens and shortens the curves for infections, hospitalizations, and excess fatalities. This result is qualitatively different from {\em flattening the curve} by reducing transmission probability through non-pharmaceutical interventions. While social learning reduces infections, this alone is not sufficient to curb the spread of the virus because learning is slower than the disease spreads. We use our model to study the efficacy of different vaccination strategies and find that a risk-based vaccination strategy--vaccinating vulnerable groups first--leads to a 50% reduction in fatalities and 5% increase in total infections compared to a random-order benchmark. By contrast, using a contact-based vaccination strategy reduces infections by 9% but results in 64% more fatalities relative to the benchmark.

Note: Funding: None to declare

Declaration of Interest: None to declare

Keywords: COVID-19, social learning, vaccination strategy, epidemiological network model

JEL Classification: C63, I18

Suggested Citation

Davids, Allan and du Rand, Gideon and Georg, Co-Pierre and Koziol, Tina and Schasfoort, Joeri, Social Learning in a Network Model of COVID-19 (July 29, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3663320 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3663320

Allan Davids

University of Cape Town (UCT) ( email )

Private Bag X3
Rondebosch, Western Cape 7701
South Africa

Gideon Du Rand

Stellenbosch University ( email )

Private Bag X1
Stellenbosch, Western Cape 7602
South Africa

Co-Pierre Georg

University of Cape Town ( email )

Private Bag X3
Rondebosch, Western Cape 7701
South Africa

Deutsche Bundesbank ( email )

Wilhelm-Epstein-Str. 14
Frankfurt/Main, 60431
Germany

Tina Koziol

University of Cape Town (UCT) ( email )

Private Bag X3
Rondebosch, Western Cape 7701
South Africa

Joeri Schasfoort (Contact Author)

University of Cape Town ( email )

Cape Town, Western Cape
South Africa

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