COVID-19: DST initiates Indian National Supermodel to monitor future transmission of infection

The Department of Science and Technology initiated an Indian National Supermodel on May 31, which will help in monitoring the future transmission of COVID-19 infections.

The model will help in aiding decisions involving health system readiness and other mitigation measures. DST, in a release, stated that numerous mathematical models for COVID-19 surveillance and forecasting have been worked out by investigators funded by DST-SERB (Science and Engineering Research Board) and other agencies.

The Indian National Supermodel introduced will rely entirely only on the data relevant to COVID-19. It will also have an adaptive built-in component to learn from the newer trends in data.

Significance of Indian National Supermodel:

DST informed that the model will aggregate successfully evidence-based statistical forecasting models and mathematical models and will include the best productive analytics for the robust forecasting of infectious disease spread.

The model can also be used by the policymakers in India and around the world that will help to overcome difficulties in predicting the rate of spread of infection and it will be a burden to the health care sector, therefore curbing the pandemic.

Idea behind the model:

As per the statement released by DST, the model has been inspired by India’s history of using mathematical models for disaster management planning of metrological events. It initiated this exercise to pool in expertise in the field and create one model for the entire country. The model will be subjected to rigorous tests required for evidence-based forecasting, which is routinely practiced in weather forecasting communities.

How the work on Supermodel will proceed?

DST mentioned that as a part of the initiative, IISc, Bangalore, and Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) will co-ordinate to connect and work with all COVID-19 modeling programs and projects in the country. It will help in developing a set of benchmarks to assess various models and to deliver the COVID-19 India National Supermodel.

DST also informed that the coordination team will consult and work with the research groups that are active in modeling, reputed companies, and various software developers. It will ensure the delivery of a suitable user interface and software. A consultative committee will also work closely with SERB, DST, and coordinators (IISC Bangalore and JNCASR) along with the modellers of this initiative who will provide critical inputs on guidance, technical aggregation and final delivery of a robust supermodel.

Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST mentioned that mathematical modeling and simulations for the spread of COVID-19 and its impacts are not merely academic exercises but also critical needs for rational decision making, resource management, and planning. It is of vital importance that a robust national model that is vetted by a large cross-section of the scientific community working in the area is developed.

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