Vulnerability to pandemics in a rapidly urbanizing society

We examine salient trends of influenza pandemics in Australia, a rapidly urbanizing nation. To do so, we implement state-of-the-art influenza transmission and progression models within a large-scale stochastic computer simulation, generated using comprehensive Australian census datasets from 2006, 2011, and 2016. Our results offer the first simulation-based investigation of a population’s sensitivity to pandemics across multiple historical time points, and highlight three significant trends in pandemic patterns over the years: increased peak prevalence, faster spreading rates, and decreasing spatiotemporal bimodality. We attribute these pandemic trends to increases in two key quantities indicative of urbanization: population fraction residing in major cities, and international air traffic. In addition, we identify features of the pandemic’s geographic spread that can only be attributed to changes in the commuter mobility network. The generic nature of our model and the ubiquity of urbanization trends around the world make it likely for our results to be applicable in other rapidly urbanizing nations.


Vulnerability to pandemics in a rapidly urbanizing society
Cameron Zachreson, Kristopher M. Fair, Oliver M. Cliff, Nathan Harding, Mahendra Piraveenan, Mikhail Prokopenko