A flexible age-dependent, spatially-stratified predictive model for the spread of COVID-19, accounting for multiple viral variants and vaccines Journalartikel uri icon



  • After COVID-19 vaccines received approval, vaccination campaigns were launched worldwide. Initially, these were characterized by a shortage of vaccine supply, and specific risk groups were prioritized. Once supply was guaranteed and vaccination coverage saturated, the focus shifted from risk groups to anti-vaxxers, the under-aged population, and regions of low coverage. At the same time, hopes to reach herd immunity by vaccination campaigns were put into perspective by the emergence and spread of more contagious and aggressive viral variants. Particularly, concerns were raised that not all vaccines protect against the new-emerging variants. The objective of this study is to introduce a predictive model to quantify the effect of vaccination campaigns on the spread of SARS-CoV-2 viral variants. Methods and findings The predictive model introduced here is a comprehensive extension of the one underlying the pandemic preparedness tool CovidSim 2.0 (http://covidsim.eu/). The model is age and spatially stratified, incorporates a finite (but arbitrary) number of different viral variants, and incorporates different vaccine products. The vaccines are allowed to differ in their vaccination schedule, vaccination rates, the onset of vaccination campaigns, and their effectiveness. These factors are also age and/or location dependent. Moreover, the effectiveness and the immunizing effect of vaccines are assumed to depend on the interaction of a given vaccine and viral variant. Importantly, vaccines are not assumed to immunize perfectly. Individuals can be immunized completely, only partially, or fail to be immunized against one or many viral variants. Not all individuals in the population are vaccinable. The model is formulated as a high-dimensional system of differential equations, which is implemented efficiently in the programming language Julia. As an example, the model was parameterized to reflect the epidemic situation in Germany until November 2021 and future dynamics of the epidemic under different interventions were predicted. In particular, without tightening contact reductions, a strong epidemic wave is predicted during December 2021 and January 2022. Provided the dynamics of the epidemic in Germany, in late 2021 administration of full-dose vaccination to all eligible individuals (e.g. by mandatory vaccination) would be too late to have a strong effect on reducing the number of infections in the fourth wave in Germany. However, it would reduce mortality. An emergency brake, i.e., an incidence-based stepwise lockdown, would be efficient to reduce the number of infections and mortality. Furthermore, to specifically account for mobility between regions, the model was applied to two German provinces of particular interest: Saxony, which currently has the lowest vaccine rollout in Germany and high incidence, and Schleswig-Holstein, which has high vaccine rollout and low incidence. Conclusions A highly sophisticated and flexible but easy-to-parameterize model for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is introduced. The model is capable of providing useful predictions for the COVID-19 pandemic, and hence provides a relevant tool for epidemic decision-making. The model can be adjusted to any country, and the predictions can be used to derive the demand for hospital or ICU capacities.



  • 2023

Beitrag veröffentlicht in


  • Open Access


  • 1


  • 18


  • e0277505