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Researchers from the Department of Physics analyze the data regarding covid-19 daily

A team of researchers from the Computational Biology and Complex Systems research group (BIOCOM- SC) of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) and the Center for Comparative Medicine and Bioimatge (CMCiB) of the Germans Trias and Pujol Research Institute (IGTP ), prepare a daily report by the European Commission and by the ECDC with the predictions of new cases of covid-19 to about 50 countries.


The work team is led by Clara Prats and Daniel López from the Physics Department, and which integrates the researchers Sergio Alonso, Enric Álvarez, and Miquel Marchena, from the UPC, and Pere-Joan Cardona i Martí Català, from the Center for Comparative Medicine and Bioimatge (CMCiB) of the Germanos Trias and Pujol Research Institute (IGTP). The researchers prepare a daily report on the situation of covid-19 in the countries of the European Union, other countries and various regions of Spain and Italy. This report, which is published daily on the web in new window) and is also sent to experts from the European Commission and the European Center for Prevention and Control of Ailments (ECDC), includes an analysis of the speed at which the disease is spreading to each area, as well as a prediction of how it will evolve over the next five days. Advisory work is also carried out with the Catalan Health Assessment and Quality Agency (AQuAS) in the process of monitoring the evolution of the pandemic in Catalonia. Some third-year students of the Physical Engineering degree participate in the analysis in the framework of the Physical Engineering Projects 2 subject.

These predictions are made by fitting an empirical model to the case data reported by the responsible agencies. In an empirical model, information on the dynamics of the disease is not used, such as the incubation time, the period in which it is infectious or the duration of the disease. In the case of a new ailment, there is not yet enough reliable data to make accurate predictions using them. Thus, the group has opted for a type of model that is based solely on the number of confirmed cases. The model itself is re-adapting with the new data that is introduced daily and corrects the predictions according to the detected changes in trend. At the moment, the predictions are working in a very high percentage.

The researchers are developing other models, with the aim of better understanding the effect of the control measures. A compartmentalized model is being developed to analyze and forecast the situation of hospitals and ICUs. And an agent-based model (ABM), where individuals or people are considered one by one, and given some rules of behavior. This model, in which they are working together with researchers from the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO), has allowed us to improve our understanding of the effects of social and epidemiological measures both in the confinement process and in the process of de-confinement.


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