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Supercomputers To Assist In Thwarting Bird Flu Epidemic In Future

our results, combinations of mitigation strategies such as stockpiling vaccines or antiviral agents, along with social distancing measures could be particularly effective in slowing pandemic flu spread in the U.S.,” added Longini.

The results show that advance preparation of a modestly effective vaccine in large quantities appears to be preferable to waiting for the development of a well-matched vaccine that may not become available until a pandemic has already reached the United States.

“Because it is currently impossible to predict which of the diverging strains of avian H5N1 influenza virus is most likely to adapt to human transmission, studies of broadly cross-reactive avian-influenza based vaccines with even modest immunogenicity in humans are important,” said Macken, an influenza researcher in the Los Alamos Theoretical Division. Ideally, both vaccine strategies would be done in parallel: Stockpile a modestly effective vaccine to use while the better-matched one is being developed, the authors suggest.

The computer simulation models a synthetic population that matches U.S. census demographics and worker mobility data by randomly assigning the simulated individuals to households, workplaces, schools, and the like. Department of Transportation travel data is used to model long-distance trips during the course of the simulation, realistically capturing the spread of the pandemic virus by airplane and other passenger travel across the United States.

“In the highly mobile U.S. population, travel restrictions alone will not be enough to stop the spread; a mixture of many mitigation strategies is more likely to be effective than a few strictly enforced ones,” said Kadau, also of Los Alamos’ Theoretical Division.

The model of disease transmission involves probabilities that any two people in a community will meet on any given day in any one of a number of settings, such as home or workplace. Thus, simulate
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