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Alessandro Vespignani: Computation helps fight Ebola in the right places

People move around a lot today and take longer trips than earlier. This is one reason for the more rapid spread of various diseases.

Researchers utilise several different databases simultaneously to make models that can be used to assess the spread of epidemics in advance. For example, the researchers take into consideration data about flight traffic and funeral practices observed in certain regions. The models are adjusted continually according to how forecasts of the spread of the disease play out in reality.

In the case of the Ebola epidemic, for example, researchers were able to create forecasts of how the disease would spread in Africa and from Africa to other continents. This helped them to determine where to focus the battle against the disease and what measures, such as closing borders, even at best only slowed the spread of the disease slightly at certain stages of its progress.

Watch Vespignani's talk here.

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