Category: Research Papers


The global COVID-19 pandemic (SARS-CoV-2 virus) is the defining health crisis of our century. Due to the absence of vaccines and drugs that can help to fight it, the world solution to control the spread has been to consider public social distance measures that avoids the saturation of the health system. In this context, we investigate a Model Predictive Control (MPC) framework to determine the time and duration of social distancing policies. We use Brazilian data in the period from March to May of 2020. The available data regarding the number of infected individuals and deaths suffers from sub-notification due to the absence of mass tests and the relevant presence of the asymptomatic individuals. We estimate variations of the SIR model using an uncertainty-weighted Least-Squares criterion that considers both nominal and inconsistent-data conditions. Moreover, we add to our versions of the SIR model an additional dynamic state variable to mimic the response of the population to the social distancing policies determined by the government that affects the speed of COVID-19 transmission. Our control framework is within a mixed-logical formalism, since the decision variable is forcefully binary (the existence or the absence of social distance policy). A dwell-time constraint is included to avoid harsh shifting between these two states. Finally, we present simulation results to illustrate how such optimal control policy would operate. These results point out that no social distancing should be relaxed before mid August 2020. If relaxations are necessary, they should not be performed before the beginning this date and should be in small periods, no longer than 25 days. This paradigm would proceed roughly until January/2021. The second peak of infections, which has a forecast to the beginning of October, can be reduced if the periods of no-isolation days are shortened.

Contact: Marcelo Menezes Morato

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Keywords: COVID-19, Model Predictive Control, On-Off Control, Social Distancing, Brazil.

Files: 2005.10797.pdf