Friday, November 26 2021
16:00 - 17:15

Ramanujan Auditorium

Playing games during a pandemic ? Mathematical modeling for informed public health policymaking

Sitabhra Sinha

IMSc, Chennai

In this talk we will explore the mathematics underlying measures designed
to contain pandemics and ask why public health campaigns involving
pharmaceutical (e.g., vaccination) and/or non-pharmaceutical interventions
(e.g., lockdowns, mask-wearing, etc.) can fail even when the benefits of
such measures are obvious to everyone. Using the language of game theory,
we show that when individuals are influenced in their decision to adopt an
intervention by the cost associated with it (e.g., the effort involved in
getting vaccinated that may be associated with some real/imagined
side-effects or just the economic and social side-effects of being confined
at home) as well as the perceived risk of getting infected by the disease,
the actual number adopting the intervention can depend sensitively on
several factors - chief among them, availability of news sources
disseminating real-time information about the local incidence of a disease.
Not surprisingly, the course of the epidemic will itself depend on the
collective aggregate of individual decisions, and partial adherence
to intervention measures can bring about multiple resurgences of
the epidemic (the so-called "second" and "third" waves).

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