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Modellers call for better data to plan lockdown exit strategies

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World-leading epidemic modellers are calling for better data collection and access, in order to improve the models used by governments to plan the release of COVID-19 lockdowns. The group met virtually in May to discuss key issues related to modelling exit strategies. Their report says modellers need better estimates of key epidemiological information about the virus, as well as better communication with policy-makers, journalists and social scientists to improve the communication of rapidly changing scientific understanding.

Journal/conference: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

Link to research (DOI): 10.1098/rspb.2020.1405

Organisation/s: La Trobe University, The University of Melbourne, The University of Adelaide, James Cook University, University of Oxford, UK

Funder: This work was supported by the Isaac Newton Institute (EPSRC grant no. EP/R014604/1). R.N.T. thanks Christ Church (Oxford) for funding via a Junior Research Fellowship. R.N.T. and S.F. acknowledge support from the Wellcome Trust (grant no. 210758/Z/18/Z). L.H.K.C. acknowledges support from the BBSRC (grant no. BB/R009236/1). B.A. is supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (grant no. NE/N014979/1). CAD and KVP thank the UK MRC and DFID for centre funding (grant no. MR/ R015600/1). C.A.D. also thanks the UK NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) HPRU (Health Protection Research Unit). R.M.E. acknowledges HDR UK (grant no. MR/S003975/1) and the UK MRC (grant no. MC_PC 19065). H.H. and M.E.K. acknowledge support from the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw; grant no. 10430022010001). T.H. acknowledges support from the Royal Society (grant no. INF\R2\180067) and the Alan Turing Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence. M.K. and M.J.T. acknowledge support from the UK MRC (grant no. MR/V009761/1). I.Z.K. acknowledges support from the Leverhulme Trust (grant no. RPG-2017-370). M.E.K. acknowledges support from the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw; grant no. 91216062). J.C.M. acknowledges startup funding from La Trobe University. C.A.B.P. acknowledges funding of the NTD Modelling Consortium by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (grant no. OPP1184344). L.P. acknowledges support from the Wellcome Trust and the Royal Society (grant no. 202562/Z/16/Z). J.R.C.P. acknowledges support from the South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (SACEMA), a Department of Science and Innovation-National Research Foundation Centre of Excellence hosted at Stellenbosch University. C.J.S. acknowledges support from CNPq and FAPERJ. P.T. acknowledges support from Vetenskapsr├ądet Swedish Research Council (2016-04566).

Media release

From: The Royal Society

Many governments are now implementing COVID-19 lockdown exit strategies that allow restrictions to be relaxed while attempting to control the risk of a surge in cases. World-leading epidemic modellers who are providing evidence to governments worldwide met recently at the Isaac Newton Institute (Cambridge) virtual workshop. They identified the main outstanding questions that, if answered, will allow for more accurate predictions of the effects of different exit strategies. These important questions are discussed here. We outline a roadmap to facilitate the development of reliable models to guide exit strategies. This is an international challenge that requires an international collaborative response.

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