Lessons from being challenged by COVID-19

E. Tagliazucchi, P. Balenzuela, M. Travizano, G. B. Mindlin, P. D. Mininni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


We present results of different approaches to model the evolution of the COVID-19 epidemic in Argentina, with a special focus on the megacity conformed by the city of Buenos Aires and its metropolitan area, including a total of 41 districts with over 13 million inhabitants. We first highlight the relevance of interpreting the early stage of the epidemic in light of incoming infectious travelers from abroad. Next, we critically evaluate certain proposed solutions to contain the epidemic based on instantaneous modifications of the reproductive number. Finally, we build increasingly complex and realistic models, ranging from simple homogeneous models used to estimate local reproduction numbers, to fully coupled inhomogeneous (deterministic or stochastic) models incorporating mobility estimates from cell phone location data. The models are capable of producing forecasts highly consistent with the official number of cases with minimal parameter fitting and fine-tuning. We discuss the strengths and limitations of the proposed models, focusing on the validity of different necessary first approximations, and caution future modeling efforts to exercise great care in the interpretation of long-term forecasts, and in the adoption of non-pharmaceutical interventions backed by numerical simulations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109923
JournalChaos, Solitons and Fractals
StatePublished - Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • Compartmental models
  • Mathematical epidemiology
  • Mobility
  • Nonlinear dynamics


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