CFDP 2229

Optimal Control of an Epidemic through Social Distancing


Publication Date: April 2020

Pages: 19


We analyze how to optimally engage in social distancing (SD) in order to minimize the spread of an infectious disease. We identify conditions under which the optimal policy is single-peaked, i.e., first engages in increasingly more social distancing and subsequently decreases its intensity. We show that the optimal policy might delay measures that decrease the transmission rate substantially to create “herd-immunity” and that engaging in social distancing sub-optimally early can increase the number of fatalities. Finally, we find that optimal social distancing can be an effective measure in substantially reducing the death rate of a disease.

Keywords: Social Distancing, SIR model, Time-Optimal Control of an Epidemic

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