Mathematical Assessment of the Role of Human Behavior Changes on SARS-CoV-2 Transmission Dynamics in the United States

Bull Math Biol. 2024 Jun 18;86(8):92. doi: 10.1007/s11538-024-01324-x.


The COVID-19 pandemic has not only presented a major global public health and socio-economic crisis, but has also significantly impacted human behavior towards adherence (or lack thereof) to public health intervention and mitigation measures implemented in communities worldwide. This study is based on the use of mathematical modeling approaches to assess the extent to which SARS-CoV-2 transmission dynamics is impacted by population-level changes of human behavior due to factors such as (a) the severity of transmission (such as disease-induced mortality and level of symptomatic transmission), (b) fatigue due to the implementation of mitigation interventions measures (e.g., lockdowns) over a long (extended) period of time, (c) social peer-pressure, among others. A novel behavior-epidemiology model, which takes the form of a deterministic system of nonlinear differential equations, is developed and fitted using observed cumulative SARS-CoV-2 mortality data during the first wave in the United States. The model fits the observed data, as well as makes a more accurate prediction of the observed daily SARS-CoV-2 mortality during the first wave (March 2020-June 2020), in comparison to the equivalent model which does not explicitly account for changes in human behavior. This study suggests that, as more newly-infected individuals become asymptomatically-infectious, the overall level of positive behavior change can be expected to significantly decrease (while new cases may rise, particularly if asymptomatic individuals have higher contact rate, in comparison to symptomatic individuals).

Keywords: Asymptomatic and symptomatic transmission; Behavior-epidemiology model; Behavior-free model; COVID-19; Control reproduction number; SARS-CoV-2.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / mortality
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • COVID-19* / transmission
  • Communicable Disease Control / methods
  • Communicable Disease Control / statistics & numerical data
  • Epidemiological Models
  • Humans
  • Mathematical Concepts*
  • Models, Biological
  • Pandemics* / prevention & control
  • Pandemics* / statistics & numerical data
  • SARS-CoV-2*
  • United States / epidemiology