The creation of a predictive model that allows physicians to estimate the probability of Covid-19 from the integration of demographic, epidemiological, clinical, social and environmental data that are within the Epivigila system used by the Ministry of Health for surveillance of Communicable diseases is the objective of the project awarded by the academic Carla Taramasco, from the School of Computer Civil Engineering of the University of Valparaíso, in the call for the Rapid Allocation of Resources for Research Projects on Coronavirus (COVID-19), of the National Agency for Research and Development.
The initiative, called “Integration of a predictive model of diagnostic capacity and epidemiological projections of COVID-19 in the Epivigila system”, seeks to integrate the information available in the system to support the diagnostic process and prioritize the use of PCR and use it in those cases where there is greater uncertainty or as a diagnostic alternative for those cases where there is a lack of evidence.
The academic Carla Taramasco explains that the project seeks to make “epidemiological projections of Covid-19 through propagation models, using the number of suspected, confirmed, quarantined, recovered and deceased cases that are registered in Epivigila to generate predictions through of deterministic models, but also with their stochastic adaptation ”.
“We want to simulate individual transmission using contact network models, studying individual, communal and regional behavior, in order to have geo-positioning elements and thus strengthen communal, regional and macro-zonal reports, validating the model based on the data found today in Epivigila ”, he adds.
The researcher points out that “with the model we seek to provide additional information to doctors, so that they can have a proposal for a probable patient or one with a high probability of being a positive case, and thus the therapeutic indication would be to follow those protocols that correspond to an infected case ”.
“The idea of integrating the viral circulation to the clinical information of the patients is to provide more complete information on the probability of Covid-19 and this allows in some cases to skip the examination, as well as to optimize the operational decisions of suspected cases or likely when we do not have exams, standardizing the diagnostic confirmation process, “he adds.
The academic indicates that the projections model could be available within two months, while the preliminary versions of the predictive model would be in three months.
“We propose to use classical deterministic models in which the input data is the number of suspected cases, confirmed in quarantine, recovered and deceased, but integrating stochastic variables, together with models based on contact networks to simulate the individual activity of the people and thus be able to simulate the transmission of the virus. Integrating this predictive model of diagnostic capacity and epidemiological projections into Epivigila could enhance clinical decision-making and epidemiological surveillance, “she says.
The team led by Carla Taramasco is also made up of researchers Camilo Guerrero and Nicolás Fuster, both from the UV Nursing School, and Carla Rimassa, from the Campus San Felipe School of Phonoaudiology.
Families in Covid’s time
Researchers from the UV participate in two other awarded projects. One of them is “Family in Covid’s time: experiences, challenges and responses of families in contexts of social inequality”, with the associate researchers Félix Aguirre and Juan Pablo Pinilla, both from the School of Sociology of the Faculty of Social Sciences. The University of Santiago is the beneficiary institution.
In this regard, Félix Aguirre explains that “it is a multi-center project, led by a team of psychologists and educators from the University College of London, which tries to analyze the changes that the coronavirus has produced in family relationships during this global crisis” .
“The UK team extended an invitation to the academic Ana del Solar, a leading Chilean researcher in the line of family psychology, to see the possibility that a group of universities in Chile, led by USACH, could join teams from ten other countries that also participate in the sample of families that are part of the study universe, “he added.
Aguirre added that “the UV has been present since the beginning of the formation of the Chilean team, through the participation of academics from the Juan Pablo Pinilla School of Sociology and whoever speaks, as co-researchers, and professors Ketty Cazorla, from the School of Social Work, and María Angélica Cruz, our colleague also from the School of Sociology, who participate as collaborators. Our team will work with a sample of twelve families from Valparaíso selected by different criteria, and Javier Chamorro, a fourth year student at the School of Sociology, will also collaborate as a research assistant for field work, a phase that we hope to start shortly ”.
Effects of Covid on diet and mental health
The other project is “Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on food and mental health in critical stages of life: CIAPEC-INTA cohorts of pregnant women, preschoolers and adolescents from the South-East area of Santiago”, awarded by the University of Chile and in which the academic of the School of Nutrition and Dietetics of the Faculty of Pharmacy Angela Martínez, nutritionist, master and doctor of Nutrition from the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil), participates.
As explained by Dr. Martínez, the COVID-19 pandemic and its mitigation measures will affect the diet and mental health of the population in the short and long term. Therefore, “understanding that impact is important because chronic diseases associated with nutrition and neuropsychiatric conditions are the main burden of disease in Chile.”
The research, to be carried out in the period 2020-2021, will include serial evaluations to characterize the diet and mental health of the participants during the pandemic and its relationship with mitigation measures.
“My role as a researcher will be mainly in the area of food consumption (my doctorate was especially on this topic: evaluation of food consumption at the population level) and how it is being affected by the new epidemiological context of the pandemic. We will evaluate changes in diet in pregnant schoolchildren and adolescents before, during and after the pandemic (food security, type and sources of food, etc.).
The academic adds that “the association between academic institutions will help to provide evidence that improves the effectiveness of health prevention actions given the new epidemiological context in which we find ourselves and to be able to compare the results of our research with other countries in the world.”
Furthermore, she affirms: “I consider that it is extremely important to generate evidence in the new epidemiological context. It is important that the government invests in research, what we are going through at the moment is a historical situation that will undoubtedly mark public health throughout the world. ”