New Tool Developed by RAND Corp. Uses Air Travel Data to Predict COVID-19 Risk

June 12, 2020 by Dan McCue

A new tool developed by the RAND Corporation analyzes COVID-19 cases and air travel data to predict the spread of the coronavirus.

According to the non-profit think tank, by providing estimates of the number of infected passengers, the tool can help policymakers better respond to the public health threat.

In fact, RAND’s researchers say, the tool has already revealed valuable insights.

The tool, officially, the COVID-19 Air Traffic Visualization (CAT-V) tool, suggests that by late January, at least one or more infected passengers per day were likely flying from China to international destinations.

Around this time, they say, it is also likely that the number of cases in China was 37 times higher than reported by Beijing.

The tool also shows that the risk to Gulf Cooperation Council countries was greater from outside the region than from Iran, contradicting common narratives about how the virus was introduced.

It comes up with its results by combining case data from Johns Hopkins University with detailed air travel data from the International Air Transport Association.

The researchers — Russell Hanson, Christopher A. Mouton, Adam R. Grissom, and John P. Godges — say that combining this data makes it possible to visualize how coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections and commercial air travel have interacted to export infection risk across the world.

“Given air travel data and reported infection rates, our tool can also be used to estimate future patterns of COVID-19 transmission. As a result, policymakers, analysts, and others can estimate the impact of travel-related policy interventions, such as restricting air travel from various countries,” the researchers say in a post on the RAND website.

The CAT-V tool offers a “heat map” feature and the ability to visualize the risk associated with individual air travel routes. The tool is currently an internal prototype model being refined for possible public release.

“We will continue to develop and use the CAT-V tool in new ways, and we will continue to release a stream of derivative findings on topics of interest to policymakers,” the researchers say.

In accordance with RAND’s quality assurance standards, the researchers note their analysis is based on the best available data. “However, COVID-19 is an evolving threat, and even the best available data being used by government agencies and research institutes have very significant limitations,” they say.

Health

Hospitals Race to Set Vaccine Priorities for Health Care Workers
Health
Hospitals Race to Set Vaccine Priorities for Health Care Workers

Large hospital systems are grappling with how best to decide which health care workers will be vaccinated first for COVID-19, a daunting task when it's unclear which shots they'll get, how many and when they'll arrive. The first COVID-19 vaccine could be cleared for U.S. use as soon... Read More

Fauci, Birx Voice Dire Post-Thanksgiving Warnings on COVID
Health
Fauci, Birx Voice Dire Post-Thanksgiving Warnings on COVID

Top federal officials voiced dire predictions of a nationwide post- Thanksgiving surge in COVID cases on Sunday. "What we expect, unfortunately, as we go for the next couple of weeks into December, (is) that we might see a surge superimposed upon that surge that we're already in," Dr. Anthony... Read More

High Court Blocks NY Coronavirus Limits on Houses of Worship
Supreme Court
High Court Blocks NY Coronavirus Limits on Houses of Worship

WASHINGTON (AP) — As coronavirus cases surge again nationwide the Supreme Court late Wednesday barred New York from enforcing certain limits on attendance at churches and synagogues in areas designated as hard hit by the virus. The justices split 5-4 with new Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the... Read More

Rep. Neal Eyes Massive Coronavirus Relief, Climate and Infrastructure Package
Congress
Rep. Neal Eyes Massive Coronavirus Relief, Climate and Infrastructure Package

WASHINGTON — House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal's attitude toward legislating under a Democratic-led White House might aptly be described as "never let a crisis go to waste." The Massachusetts Democrat wants to take a page from his party's 2009 playbook, when the Obama administration took office amid the wreckage of... Read More

Opening of 117th Congress Will be Different Due to Pandemic
Congress
Opening of 117th Congress Will be Different Due to Pandemic

WASHINGTON — When the 117th Congress convenes in January, COVID-19 precautions will prevent the 435 House members from gathering in the chamber together, so opening day festivities of swearing in members and electing the speaker will look a little different. House leaders have begun discussing how to carry out... Read More

Stabenow Says Smaller Coronavirus Relief Bill Better Than Nothing
Economy
Stabenow Says Smaller Coronavirus Relief Bill Better Than Nothing

WASHINGTON — A top Senate Democrat said Tuesday that she's engaged in bipartisan discussions on COVID-19 aid and urged quick action even if that means "a short-term package for the next few months." "We need to act," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D- Mich., the fourth-ranking Democrat in that chamber... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top