Unimas develops Covid-19 simulation tool to monitor outbreaks

Associate Professor Dr Jane Labadin.

KUCHING: Universiti Malaysia Sarawak’s (Unimas) research team has recently developed a web-based simulation tool known as the Covid Malaysia Simulation or COVID-MYSim, that can help monitor Covid-19 outbreaks.

Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology (FCSIT) senior researcher Associate Professor Dr Jane Labadin and her team had collaborated with the Health Ministry’s Institute for Medical Research to formulate a disease model to help decision makers decide on the best option in mitigating outbreaks.

The simulation tool is based on a mathematical model that can calculate the basic reproduction number of cases in Malaysia. The reproduction number, which is the average number of times that an infected person would spread during their infectious period, is also known as the R0 (R – naught).

While, the R0 represents the maximum epidemic potential of a pathogen and this would describe the possibility of an infectious person coming into contact to a fully vulnerable group of people.

Through COVID-MYSim, the formulated results will show the direct relation of human contacts by an infected person and the proportion of the exposed person who do not perform effective precaution such as observance of the standard Covid-19 standard operating procedures, that is, avoiding crowded places, wearing face masks, and ensuring hand hygiene.

The figures will also be able to show that fewer contacts and higher personal precaution will result in smaller reproduction number (R0).

The COVID-MYSim can also be used on a smaller scale such as for a particular state and even at district level.

Meanwhile, similar models have also been developed by other research teams in the world. Regardless of their specific objectives, the main goal of these mathematical models is to support decision makers in their decisions regarding Covid-19 scenarios, and this includes planning for intensive care units or hospital beds.

Dr Labadin, who is also a Covid-19 Multi-Model Comparison Collaboration member, and her team began their research on disease modelling 13 years ago and among the disease models they formulated included malaria, dengue, SARS, Zika virus; the Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, and rabies.