Government Technology

Swine Flu: Statistical Model Predicts Spread in U.S.

Alessandro Vespignani
Alessandro Vespignani

April 28, 2009 By


Photo: Alessandro Vespignani is an internationally recognized expert on the statistical analysis and computer modeling of epidemics. (Indiana University)


Two different swine influenza infection computer models from Indiana and Northwestern Universities, generated on April 27, both predict about 1,000 cases in the United States within three weeks.

However, as of 6 a.m., April 28, there had only been 40 cases of swine influenza (H1N1) reported in the U.S. according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to Indiana University Rudy Professor of Informatics Alessandro Vespignani, an internationally recognized expert on the statistical analysis and computer modeling of epidemics, the prediction of 1000 cases is actually pretty good news and it might not actually get that bad.

"This is a worst-case scenario, as we are always working in a worst-case scenario setting," Vespignani said in a press statement today. "What we are finding is that this is not a panic situation and that this thing is not ramping up in some crazy way. Right now we are confident that in the next few days things will be more optimistic."

His optimism is based largely upon the actions taken worldwide: the medical alert in Mexico, school closures in Texas, World Health Organization warnings, increased controls at international airports and the availability of an anti-viral drug for treatment.

However, Vespignani also pointed out that the next 72 hours would be critical. Even the computer model predictions could change as often as every 12 to 24 hours, depending upon what happens in the world.


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