Role of modelling in COVID-19 policy development

Paediatr Respir Rev. 2020 Sep;35:57-60. doi: 10.1016/j.prrv.2020.06.013. Epub 2020 Jun 18.


Models have played an important role in policy development to address the COVID-19 outbreak from its emergence in China to the current global pandemic. Early projections of international spread influenced travel restrictions and border closures. Model projections based on the virus's infectiousness demonstrated its pandemic potential, which guided the global response to and prepared countries for increases in hospitalisations and deaths. Tracking the impact of distancing and movement policies and behaviour changes has been critical in evaluating these decisions. Models have provided insights into the epidemiological differences between higher and lower income countries, as well as vulnerable population groups within countries to help design fit-for-purpose policies. Economic evaluation and policies have combined epidemic models and traditional economic models to address the economic consequences of COVID-19, which have informed policy calls for easing restrictions. Social contact and mobility models have allowed evaluation of the pathways to safely relax mobility restrictions and distancing measures. Finally, models can consider future end-game scenarios, including how suppression can be achieved and the impact of different vaccination strategies.

Keywords: COVID-19; Emerging infectious diseases; Mathematical modelling; Pandemic; Public health policy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / prevention & control
  • Coronavirus Infections / transmission
  • Developing Countries
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • Models, Economic
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Pandemics / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia, Viral / transmission
  • Policy Making*
  • Public Health
  • Public Policy
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Travel
  • Viral Vaccines / therapeutic use


  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Viral Vaccines