Epidemiological impacts of post-infection mortality.

Publication date: Jul 12, 2023

Infectious diseases may cause some long-term damage to their host, leading to elevated mortality even after recovery. Mortality due to complications from so-called ‘long COVID’ is a stark illustration of this potential, but the impacts of such post-infection mortality (PIM) on epidemic dynamics are not known. Using an epidemiological model that incorporates PIM, we examine the importance of this effect. We find that in contrast to mortality during infection, PIM can induce epidemic cycling. The effect is due to interference between elevated mortality and reinfection through the previously infected susceptible pool. In particular, robust immunity (via decreased susceptibility to reinfection) reduces the likelihood of cycling; on the other hand, disease-induced mortality can interact with weak PIM to generate periodicity. In the absence of PIM, we prove that the unique endemic equilibrium is stable and therefore our key result is that PIM is an overlooked phenomenon that is likely to be destabilizing. Overall, given potentially widespread effects, our findings highlight the importance of characterizing heterogeneity in susceptibility (via both PIM and robustness of host immunity) for accurate epidemiological predictions. In particular, for diseases without robust immunity, such as SARS-CoV-2, PIM may underlie complex epidemiological dynamics especially in the context of seasonal forcing.

Concepts Keywords
Absence epidemiological model
Covid periodicity
Epidemiology post-infection mortality


Type Source Name
disease MESH infection
disease MESH Infectious diseases
disease IDO host
disease MESH complications
disease MESH reinfection
disease IDO susceptibility
disease VO Optaflu

Original Article

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