CFDP 2229R

Optimal Control of an Epidemic through Social Distancing


Publication Date: April 2020

Revision Date: July 2020

Pages: 29


We analyze how to optimally engage in social distancing in order to minimize the spread of an infectious disease. We identify conditions under which any optimal policy is single-peaked, i.e., first engages in increasingly more social distancing and subsequently decreases its intensity. We show that an 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 and can substantially reduce the death rate of a disease.

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

See CFDP Version(s): CFDP 2229