Emanuele Massaro, Alexander Ganin, Nicola Perra, Igor Linkov, Alessandro Vespignani
January 30, 2018
Assessing and managing the impact of large-scale epidemics considering only the individual risk and severity of the disease is exceedingly difficult and could be extremely expensive. Economic consequences, infrastructure and service disruption, as well as the recovery speed, are just a few of the many dimensions along which to quantify the effect of an epidemic on society’s fabric. Here, we extend the concept of resilience to characterize epidemics in structured populations, by defining the system-wide critical functionality that combines an individual’s risk of getting the disease (disease attack rate) and the disruption to the system’s functionality (human mobility deterioration). By studying both conceptual and data-driven models, we show that the integrated consideration of individual risks and societal disruptions under resilience assessment framework provides an insightful picture of how an epidemic might impact society. In particular, containment interventions intended for a straightforward reduction of the risk may have net negative impact on the system by slowing down the recovery of basic societal functions. The presented study operationalizes the resilience framework, providing a more nuanced and comprehensive approach for optimizing containment schemes and mitigation policies in the case of epidemic outbreaks.