Campus News

Odum professor discusses modeling of COVID pandemic

John Drake, Distinguished Research Professor in the Odum School of Ecology and director of the Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

John Drake, the associate dean for academic affairs and a Distinguished Research Professor in the Odum School of Ecology, was recently quoted in a Quanta Magazine article about the difficult lessons of modeling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gathering data in a timely way for COVID-19 was often nearly impossible, especially early on in the pandemic.

It’s been “a real disappointment and a surprise,” Drake said, “that as a country or globally, we’ve done such a poor job collecting data on this epidemic. … I genuinely thought that there would be a government response that would be effective and coordinated, and we haven’t had that.”

Scientists and researchers hoping to build useful models had trouble simply accessing data and were forced to sort through texts, case reports in other languages and faxes to piece together data for modeling.

“None of us, I think, were prepared for the inconsistent data collection,” he said.

The article elaborated on the importance of epidemiological models and their usefulness, especially toward what everyone hopes will be the end stages of the pandemic.