Using the SEIR model to constrain the role of contaminated fomites in spreading an epidemic: an application to COVID-19 in the UK

Avery Meiksin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The use of the SEIR model of compartmentalized population dynamics with an added fomite term is analysed as a means of statistically quantifying the contribution of contaminated fomites to the spread of a viral epidemic. It is shown that for normally expected lifetimes of a virus on fomites, the dynamics of the populations are nearly indistinguishable from the case without fomites. With additional information, such as the change in social contacts following a lockdown, however, it is shown that, under the assumption that the reproduction number for direct infection is proportional to the number of social contacts, the population dynamics may be used to place meaningful statistical constraints on the role of fomites that are not affected by the lockdown. The case of the Spring 2020 UK lockdown in response to COVID-19 is presented as an illustration. An upper limit is found on the transmission rate by contaminated fomites of fewer than 1 in 30 per day per infectious person (95% CL) when social contact information is taken into account. Applied to postal deliveries and food
packaging, the upper limit on the contaminated fomite transmission rate corresponds to a probability below 1 in 70 (95% CL) that a contaminated fomite transmits the infection. The method presented here may be helpful for guiding health policy over the contribution of some fomites to the spread of
infection in other epidemics until more complete risk assessments based on mechanistic modelling or epidemiological investigations may be completed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3564-3590
Number of pages27
JournalMathematical Biosciences and Engineering
Volume19
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2022

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Using the SEIR model to constrain the role of contaminated fomites in spreading an epidemic: an application to COVID-19 in the UK'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this