UCI statisticians regularly compile and analyze troves of data to gauge the public health implications of the spread of COVID-19. New funding from University of California Health and the California Department of Public Health will help UCI researchers generate more timely and accurate pandemic forecasts. Vladimir Minin / UCI

UCI is one of four UC system institutions to receive COVID Modeling Consortium funding recently for projects devoted to improving our understanding coronavirus detection and impact, virus transmission and behavior, mitigation strategies and social and behavioral considerations. Led by Vladimir Minin, professor of statistics, a research team will conduct a study to improve accuracy and precision of COVID-19 forecasts and scenarios through analysis of inputs from multiple data sources.

“Reliable, accurate and timely data are key to an effective pandemic response,” said Minin, associate director of the UCI Infectious Disease Science Initiative. “Equally important is the application of those data in modelling and statistical analyses to ensure that policy makers have the tools they need to guide the right public response.”

The COVID Modeling Consortium, launched in 2021 by University of California Health and the California Department of Public Health, organizes research initiatives to ensure policy makers have timely, relevant analysis and insights to support pandemic-related decision making. The new funding phase, which totals more than $230,000, is meant to address disease risk in minority populations, the effectiveness of K-12 school mitigation strategies and disparities in COVID-19 vaccination acceptance.

“We have had to respond in real time to the COVID-19 situation over the past two years, learning new lessons each step of the way,” said Minin, who led the development of a regularly updated COVID-19 situation report for Orange County. The grant will support Damon Bayer and Isaac Goldstein, UCI graduate students in statistics who have been working with Minin on COVID-19 response since March 2020. “With this support from the COVID Modeling Consortium, we will be able to pause and conduct a serious analysis of best practices so we will be better prepared for future outbreaks.”

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