Optimal control of the epidemic under heterogeneity conditions - decision making perspective on agent based modelling

Project objectives

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic poses an unprecedented challenge to society and policy-making. The goal of OptimAgent is to develop a standardized model-based framework to support public health decision-making processes. This framework will enable the evaluation of a wide range of infection control interventions. The focus is on the design of an agent-based model that goes significantly beyond the simulation approaches available to date.
Through a flexible modular structure and an extensive consultation process with national and international modeling experts, the model will be optimized to inform health policy decision-making during future pandemics. Furthermore, it will be adaptable to endemic pathogens and will realistically reflect the socio-demographic and regional structures of Germany. The agents underlying the model combine demographic, socioeconomic, sociological, and psychological characteristics that influence individual contact behavior, risk of infection, and risk of disease.
Based on the results of comprehensive and sophisticated analyses of contact behavior, specific model modules on selective, targeted contact restraints in different settings, contact tracking and testing strategies are developed. The flexible modular design of the model also offers possibilities for easy integration of additional components.
The main focus of the project is to analyze the impact of different aspects of heterogeneity in the population structure and their interaction on the incidence of infection. This will provide new insights regarding the role of heterogeneity in the spread of severe respiratory infectious diseases in the population and the effectiveness of pandemic control measures.

Project structure

OptimAgent is divided into the phases “Conceptualization”, “Development & Analysis” and “Application” and consists of six interlinked subprojects.

Subproject 1 -

Heterogeneity in contact behavior and in the uptake of preventive measures in different phases of an epidemic

Explores heterogeneity in contact behaviors and compliance with nonpharmaceutical interventions and their impact on transmission patterns across populations.

Subproject 2 - 

Heterogeneity of socio-psychological determinants of health behaviors

Focuses on psychosocial aspects that influence health behaviors and creates a module to generate artificial populations.

Subproject 3 -

Estimation of spatial and temporal heterogeneity - Methods for parameterization and learning of models

Develops a principled approach to deriving time- and spatially-resolved epidemiological parameters from multiple data sources.

Subproject 4 -

Development of representative scenario populations for epidemiological models

Develops a tool to generate representative scenario populations for epidemiological models.

Subproject 5 -

Development of the German Epidemic Micro-Simulation System

Will develop an agent-based reference model for Germany that integrates work from subprojects 1-4 and 6 and enables simulation of complex scenarios.

Subproject 6 -

Effects of synergistic interactions between exposure and susceptibility to infectious diseases on socioeconomic inequalities in disease burden and the effects of infection control measures

Creates a decision analytic module that estimates effectiveness and efficiency of alternative non-pharmaceutical interventions.

Project managers

Subproject 1

Dr. André Karch, WWU
(Subproject leader)

Veronika Jäger, WWU

Dr. Rafael Mikolajczyk, MLU

Dr. Vitaly Belik, FUB

Subproject 2

Dr. André Calero Valdez, UzL
(Subproject leader)

Subproject 3

Dr. Markus Scholz, UnL
(Subproject leader)

Subproject 4

Dr. Jan Pablo Burgard, UnT
(Subproject leader)

Dr. Ralf Münnich, UnT

Subproject 5

Wolfgang Bock, TUK
(Subproject leader)

Dr. Bernd Hellingrath, ERCIS

Johannes Horn, MLU

Dr. Mirjam E. Kretzschmar, UMC

Dr. Tyll Krüger, WUST

Subproject 6

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Alexander Kuhlmann, MLU
(Subproject leader)

Berit Lange, HZI

Dr. Wolfgang Greiner, UnB

Dr. Beate Jahn, UMIT

Dr. Uwe Siebert, UMIT

Project partners

Prof. Dr. Rafael Mikolajczyk

Dr. Johannes Horn

Dr. Daniel Rodenburger

Moritz Kersting

Carla Hartmann

Institute for Medical Epidemiology, Biometry and Informatics, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Alexander Kuhlmann

Research Group Health Economics and Health Services Research, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg

Prof. Dr. André Karch

Dr. Veronika Jäger

Phuong Huynh

Institute for Epidemiology and Social Medicine,
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

Prof. Dr. Bernd Hellingrath

Johannes Ponge

Institute for Business Information Technology,
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

Prof. Dr. Vitaly Belik

Andrzej Krzysztof Jarynowski

Institute for Veterinary-Epidemiology und Biometry, Freie Universität Berlin

Prof. Dr. Markus Scholz

Institute for Medical Informatics, Statistics and Epidemiology, Universität Leipzig

Prof. Dr. André Calero Valdez

Lilian Kojan

Institute for Multimedia and Interactive Systems,
Universität zu Lübeck

Prof. Dr. Jan Pablo Burgard

Prof. Dr. Ralf Münnich

Soheil Shams

Chair of Economic and Social Statistics,
Universität Trier

Dr. Wolfgang Bock

Lukas Bayer

Department of Technomathematics,
Technical University of Kaiserslautern

Dr. Berit Lange

Dr. Isti Rodiah

Department for Epidemiology, Helmholtz Center for Infection Research GmbH


Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Greiner

Maren Steinmann

Sebastian Gruhn

Fakulty for Health Services,Universität Bielefeld

Prof. Dr. Tyll Krüger

Technical University Breslau

Prof. Dr. Mirjam E. Kretzschmar

Universität Utrecht

Prof. Dr. Beate Jahn

Prof. Dr. Uwe Siebert

UMIT – Private University of Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology GmbH (UMIT TIROL)

Richard Pastor

Steven Schulz


Scientific Advisory Board

Vittoria Colizza

Research Director at the Pierre Louis Institute of Epidemiology

Luca Ferretti

Senior Researcher at the Big Data Institute, Oxford University

Simon Cauchemez

Head of the Department of Mathematical Modeling of Infectious Diseases at the Pasteur Institut

Stefan Flasche

Co-Director of the Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases (CMMID).
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Franciszek Rakowski

Head of the Polish modeling team, ICM University of Warsaw

Nicolas Popper

Chairman of DEXHELPP (Decision Support for Health Policy and Planning)
Coordinator of COCOS (Center for Computational Complex Systems), Vienna University of Technology