To isolate or not to isolate: The impact of changing behavior on COVID-19 transmission


1 The COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than 25 million cases and 800 thousand 2 deaths worldwide to date. Neither vaccines nor therapeutic drugs are currently avail-3 able for this novel coronavirus. All measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are 4 thus based on reducing contact between infected and susceptible individuals. Most 5 of these measures such as quarantine and self-isolation require voluntary compliance 6 by the population. However, humans may act in their (perceived) self-interest only. 7 We construct a mathematical model of COVID-19 transmission with quarantine and 8 hospitalization coupled with a dynamic game model of adaptive human behavior. Sus-9 ceptible and infected individuals adopt various behavioral strategies based on perceived 10 prevalence and burden of the disease and sensitivity to isolation measures, and they 11 evolve their strategies using a social learning algorithm (imitation dynamics). This re-12 sults in complex interplay between the epidemiological model, which affects success of 13 different strategies, and the game-theoretic behavioral model, which in turn affects the 14 spread of the disease. We found that the second wave of the pandemic, which has been 15 observed in the US, can be attributed to rational behavior of susceptible individuals, 16 and that multiple waves of the pandemic are possible if the rate of social learning of 17 infected individuals is sufficiently high. To reduce the burden of the disease on the 18 society, it is necessary to incentivize such altruistic behavior by infected individuals as 19 voluntary self-isolation. 20

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