Alexandru Topirceanu, Mihai Udrescu, Radu Marculescu
The infectious diseases are spreading due to human interactions enabled by various social networks. Therefore, when a new pathogen such as SARS-CoV-2 causes an outbreak, the non-pharmaceutical isolation strategies (e.g., social distancing) are the only possible response to disrupt its spreading. To this end, we introduce the new epidemic model (SICARS) and compare the centralized (C), decentralized (D), and combined (C+D) social distancing strategies, and analyze their efficiency to control the dynamics of COVID-19 on heterogeneous complex networks. Our analysis shows that the centralized social distancing is necessary to minimize the pandemic spreading. The decentralized strategy is insufficient when used alone, but offers the best results when combined with the centralized one. Indeed, the (C+D) is the most efficient isolation strategy at mitigating the network superspreaders and reducing the highest node degrees to less than 10% of their initial values. Our results also indicate that stronger social distancing, e.g., cutting 75% of social ties, can reduce the outbreak by 75% for the C isolation, by 33% for the D isolation, and by 87% for the (C+D) isolation strategy. Finally, we study the impact of proactive versus reactive isolation strategies, as well as their delayed enforcement. We find that the reactive response to the pandemic is less efficient, and delaying the adoption of isolation measures by over one month (since the outbreak onset in a region) can have alarming effects; thus, our study contributes to an understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic both in space and time. We believe our investigations have a high social relevance as they provide insights into understanding how different degrees of social distancing can reduce the peak infection ratio substantially; this can make the COVID-19 pandemic easier to understand and control over an extended period of time.