Interpretable OR for High-Stakes Decisions: Designing the Greek COVID-19 Testing System
29 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2021
Date Written: July 30, 2021
In the summer of 2020, in collaboration with the Greek government, we designed and deployed Eva – the first national scale, reinforcement learning system for targeted COVID-19 testing. In this paper, we detail the rationale for three major design/algorithmic elements: Eva’s testing supply chain, estimating COVID-19 prevalence, and test allocation. Specifically, we describe the design of Eva’s supply chain to collect and process thousands of biological samples per day with special emphasis on capacity procurement. Then, we propose a novel, empirical Bayes estimation strategy to estimate COVID-19 prevalence among different passenger types with limited data and showcase how these estimates were instrumental for a variety of downstream decision-making. Finally, we propose a novel, multi-armed bandit algorithm that dynamically allocates tests to arriving passengers in a non-stationary environment with delayed feedback and batched decisions. All of our design and algorithmic choices emphasize the need for transparent reasoning to enable human-in-the- loop analytics. Such transparency was crucial to building trust and buy-in among policymakers and public health experts in a period of global crisis.
Note: Funding: V.G. was partially supported by the National Science Foundation through NSF Grant CMMI-1661732.
Declaration of Interests: H.B., V.G., and J.V. declare no conflict of interest. K.D. declares non-financial competing interest as an unpaid Data Science and Operations Advisor to the Greek Government from May 1st, 2020 to Nov 1st, 2020.
Keywords: targeted COVID-19 testing, human-in-the-loop analytics, supply chain design, empirical Bayes, LASSO, reinforcement learning
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