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Model distinguishability and inference robustness in mechanisms of cholera transmission and loss of immunity.

Abstract

) was often poorly estimated even using the correct model, due to practical unidentifiability issues in the waterborne transmission pathway which were consistent across all models. Forecasting efforts using noisy data were not successful early in the outbreaks, but once the epidemic peak had been achieved, most models were able to capture the downward incidence trajectory with similar accuracy. Forecasting from noise-free data was generally successful for all outbreak stages using any model. Our results suggest that we are unlikely to be able to infer mechanistic details from epidemic case data alone, underscoring the need for broader data collection, such as immunity/serology status, pathogen dose response curves, and environmental pathogen data. Nonetheless, with sufficient data, conclusions from forecasting and some parameter estimates were robust to variations in the model structure, and comparative modeling can help to determine how realistic variations in model structure may affect the conclusions drawn from models and data.

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