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Coronavirus e potere dei network

Coronavirus e potere dei network

16 Marzo 2020 Redazione SoloTablet
Redazione SoloTablet
Il Coronavirus è il prodotto della globalizzazione, della complessità e della interconnessione globale della Terra nella forma di Reti o Network. Lo dice uno studioso delle Reti come Lazlo Barabasi, autore di libri fondamentali come Link. Un testo, in inglese, che segnaliamo a chi volesse capire meglio la specificità di questo virus e perchè sconfiggerlo non sarà affatto facile.

Anche Barabasi sostiene comunque le azioni di contrasto come quelle adottate in Italia. Insufficienti forse ma necessarie per impedire che il contagio si diffonda. La quarantena e lo stare a casa servono per lo meno a rallentare la velocità di diffusione del virus.

Poi speriamo che ognuno se la cavi!

Source: https://www.facebook.com/barabasi/posts/10163045820815612

"In the coming months, I will most likely become infected by COVID-19. Billions of coronaviruses will invade my cell and trigger a desperate fight with my immune cells. But in the absence of a chronic illness and because I am living in Boston, next to the superb Harvard Hospitals, I trust my immune system will get all the help it needs to prevail.

Still, I'm very worried about the virus. So much so that I find it inevitable that we will shut down the world for the coming two months. I am less concerned with myself. I am truly concerned about my mother, however.

I have been one of the few privileged people to have known since February, that the world as we know it will have to come to a halt mid-March. When I mentioned this to my friends back then, it was hard even for me to imagine and articulate what this really meant. Now we're all starting to have a sense of it, and it is dawning on us how difficult the coming months will be.

I knew what was coming because I work at the Network Science Institute in Boston. My colleagues, led by Alessandro Vespignani, in the past decade have perfected the tools of network science to accurately predict the spread of viruses. They helped to halt the Zika, and then the Ebola epidemics, and now the coronavirus is in their pipeline.

Let me bypass the network theory part of the problem now - that's what Chapter 10 of my book, Linked is about, or read online Chapter 10 of the Network Science textbook (http://networksciencebook.com/). The coronavirus is a network disease, so network science is needed to predict how it unfolds and ultimately to control its spread.

What matters is that we understand that the virus cannot be stopped. It will spread regardless of how many countries close the border and how many flights are canceled or how many schools are closed. When there are ten patients in the hospital, there must be hundreds of infected individuals in the community. Many never learn that they carry the disease because they never develop symptoms. But they spread the virus nevertheless.

We are already past the point where quarantine could stop the COVID-19. Ebola was successfully halted this way, but the coronavirus is too contagious and has reached too many people for traditional quarantine and contact tracing to be effective. It is also very unlikely that we will have a vaccine against it this year.

If unstoppable, why halt life as we know it? Why close schools, and why do we push the economy into recession?

For one reason - to slow it down. If we succeed at that, we may be able to save our parents and grandparents, and in some cases ourselves as well.

The models are pretty clear about what happens next -- about half of the population will become infected within the coming year. In the absence of an intervention, the process follows a well-studied Gaussian-like curve — rapid growth, a sharp peak, and then decay. The problem is, that at the summit we will not have enough hospital beds for everyone who needs care.

And the summit is frighteningly close. If we do nothing, within weeks tens of thousands will be infected. We have seen in Italy what happens when a society loses control over the virus. Doctors are forced to decide over life and death, saving some patients, and letting others succumb to the disease.

Many people continue to deceive themselves that this is a harmless influenza virus, given that it avoids young people, especially children. This is not true - the coronavirus spreads faster than the flu and does not encounter immunity. By the time influenza reaches the western world in the fall, a significant percentage of the population is already vaccinated, making it more difficult for it to spread. The coronavirus encounters a totally susceptible population, and has higher mortality among the elderly and among those with preexisting conditions.

I am writing this because I am very worried about the elderly, like my mother. Everyone who has elderly or sick in their family, in the apartment building, among their neighbors, is responsible for their well being. We must understand that for them the danger is very real. So don’t bring the virus to them! Make sure they have food and shop for them if they don't. Help them isolate themselves over the next two months! And do your best not to spread the virus, so that together we reduce the burden on the health care system.

If we all take COVID-19 seriously now, we can avoid falling sick simultaneously. This will keep the hospital beds and the oxygen supply to those who are severely infected. Unless we do everything we can to slow the epidemic now, many of us will find ourselves without parents and grandparents by the end of the year."

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