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Reformulating the susceptible–infectious–removed model in terms of the number of detected cases: well-posedness of the observational model

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Article number20210306
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>3/10/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2233
Number of pages15
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date15/08/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Compartmental models are popular in the mathematics of epidemiology for their simplicity and wide range of applications. Although they are typically solved as initial value problems for a system of ordinary differential equations, the observed data are typically akin to a boundary value-type problem: we observe some of the dependent variables at given times, but we do not know the initial conditions. In this paper, we reformulate the classical susceptible–infectious–recovered system in terms of the number of detected positive infected cases at different times to yield what we term the observational model. We then prove the existence and uniqueness of a solution to the boundary value problem associated with the observational model and present a numerical algorithm to approximate the solution.

This article is part of the theme issue ‘Technical challenges of modelling real-life epidemics and examples of overcoming these’.