Epidemiology and Mathematical Modelling
Diseases are a ubiquitous part of human life. Many, such as the common cold, have minor symptoms
and are purely an annoyance; but others, such as Ebola or AIDS, fill us with dread. It is the unseen
and seemingly unpredictable nature of diseases, infecting some individuals while others escape,
that has gripped our imagination. Over the past one hundred years, mathematics has been used to understand
and predict the spread of diseases, relating important public-health questions to basic infection parameters.
Mathematical models can project how infectious diseases progress
to show the likely outcome
of an epidemic and help inform public health interventions. Models use some basic assumptions
and mathematics to find parameters for various infectious diseases and use those parameters to
calculate the effects of possible interventions, like mass vaccination programmes.