A Parsimonious Behavioral SEIR Model of the 2020 COVID Epidemic in the United States and the United Kingdom

Abstract: I present a behavioral epidemiological model of the evolution of the COVID epidemic in the United States and the United Kingdom over the past 12 months. The model includes the introduction of a new, more contagious variant in the UK in early fall and the US in mid December. The model is behavioral in that activity, and thus transmission, responds endogenously to the daily death rate. I show that with only seasonal variation in the transmission rate and pandemic fatigue modeled as a one-time reduction in the semi-elasticity of the transmission rate to the daily death rate late in the year, the model can reproduce the evolution of daily and cumulative COVID deaths in the both countries from Feb 15, 2020 to the present remarkably well. I find that most of the end-of-year surge in deaths in both the US and the UK was generated by pandemic fatigue and not the new variant of the virus. I then generate forecasts for the evolution of the epidemic over the next two years with continuing seasonality, pandemic fatigue, and spread of the new variant.

Keywords: COVID-19; Behavior; Epidemics;

JEL Classification: E10; E17; I10; I18;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Part of Series: Staff Report

Publication Date: 2021-02-04

Number: 619