IMMC-QEF Teachers & Students Workshop

Mathematical Modeling in Combating COVID-19

Date: 15-16 Aug 2020         Using ZOOM

Dr. He Daihai  何岱海博士
Associate Professor, Department of Applied Mathematics, Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Personal Website:
Research Interests: 
  • Mathematical Epidemiology

  • Statistical Inference of Stochastic Process

Dr. Lam, Tsan Yuk Tommy 
Assistant ProfessorDivision of Public Health Laboratory Sciences, The University of Hong Kong
Research Interests: 
  • Evolution, epidemiology and ecology of infectious diseases. 

This IMMC online summer workshop of this year was conducted by Associate Professor, Daihai HE  from the Department of Applied Mathematics, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and Assistant Professor, Tsan Yuk LAM, Tommy,  School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong.

Dr. Daihai HE held the workshop on 15 Aug, with the topic of "Mathematical Modeling & Parameter Estimation of COVID-19". Dr. HE introduced the tools for data visualization: a map made by doctor John Snow based on the distribution of the epidemic during the 19th-century British cholera outbreak, a map of the distribution of new coronary pneumonia cases in Hong Kong, and Nightingale’s Rose Diagram and other data visualization tools. Then Dr. He moved to the mathematical part of infectious diseases. First, the Basic Reproductive Number, which represents the infectiousness of the disease, followed by the classic SIR infectious disease model, and the modified SIR model under the epidemic situation. The latest research results on the basic reproductive number, transmission aspects, asymptomatic cases of COVID-19, etc. 

Furthermore, Dr. HE showed some studies related to the epidemic, such as the relationship between the education level and the epidemic, or the relationship between the human development index and the epidemic in certain areas. In addition, the review of the 1918-1919 Spanish Flu was introduced. In the afternoon, Dr.HE demonstrated how to programming with the R language and obtain the results and graphs of the model.

Dr. LAM held the workshop with title,"Using Mathematical and Statistic Modeling to Estimate the Spread of COVID-19 from the Virus Genetic Data". He introduced basic biological knowledge, such as the concepts of Phylogenetic Tree, Pathogen, and Genomes at the beginning. He also gave historical examples such as AIDS in the 1980s and SARS in 2003 and zoonotic diseases, such as the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, etc. Dr. LAM showed the application of Phylogenetic Tree to these cases. Later, Dr. LAM talked about the algorithms used in Phylogenetic Tree, which can be divided into two types: Distance-based or Discrete-data. An example of the former is Neighbor-joining. The latter has Maximum Likelihood (Maximum Likelihood) and so on. In the Genetic Distance part, Dr. LAM introduces the simplest P-distance (P-distance), he elaborated and gradually demonstrated the role of the two methods. Finally, he explained further analysis methods, such as Molecular Dating, Phylogeography, and other related details. Dr. LAM took the AIDS No. 0 patient in the United States, AIDS and hepatitis C in Libya as examples to illustrate the application of the above method.

The afternoon section was mainly for the practice of the software, Dr. Lam taught students how to use the software to analyze and make Phylogenetic Trees.