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Enhancing the prediction of hospitalization from a COVID-19 agent-based model: A Bayesian method for model parameter estimation.

Abstract

Agent-based models (ABMs) have become a common tool for estimating demand for hospital beds during the COVID-19 pandemic. A key parameter in these ABMs is the probability of hospitalization for agents with COVID-19. Many published COVID-19 ABMs use either single point or age-specific estimates of the probability of hospitalization for agents with COVID-19, omitting key factors: comorbidities and testing status (i.e., received vs. did not receive COVID-19 test). These omissions can inhibit interpretability, particularly by stakeholders seeking to use an ABM for transparent decision-making. We introduce a straightforward yet novel application of Bayes' theorem with inputs from aggregated hospital data to better incorporate these factors in an ABM. We update input parameters for a North Carolina COVID-19 ABM using this approach, demonstrate sensitivity to input data selections, and highlight the enhanced interpretability and accuracy of the method and the predictions. We propose that even in tumultuous scenarios with limited information like the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, straightforward approaches like this one with discrete, attainable inputs can improve ABMs to better support stakeholders.

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