From historical influenza pandemics to COVID-19: how modelling can help us understand and mitigate major infectious disease events

Dr Cécile Viboud, Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health


Dr Cécile Viboud

Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health

Cécile Viboud is a senior research scientist in the Division of International Epidemiology and Population Studies of the Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, USA. Her research focuses on the epidemiology and transmission dynamics of acute viral infections, at the interface of public health and computational modeling. Her work has primarily concentrated on the epidemiology of respiratory viruses and pandemic influenza, but she has recently become interested in the potential of Big Data to strengthen infectious disease surveillance and forecasting approaches.

A native of France, she received an engineering degree in biomedical technologies from the University of Lyon (1998), a Master of Public Health (1999) and a PhD in Biomathematics (2003) from Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris, France.


Thursday, 11 FebruaryDr Cécile ViboudWatch lecture recording

Talk abstract

We will review contemporaneous and historical mortality analyses that have shed light on the epidemiology and transmission dynamics of pandemic outbreaks in different regions of the world. Excess mortality and transmission rates of pandemic influenza have been estimated based on archived mortality statistics going back to the 19th Century and analyses of genealogy databases. Characteristic features of influenza pandemics include the existence of multiple closely spaced waves of mortality, a shift in the age profile of deaths, a lack of winter seasonality, and heterogeneity in clinical severity over time and by geography. Some of these features echo what we see today in the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will discuss how mathematical modeling has been useful to understand the disease burden of major historical infectious disease events and guide policy on how to mitigate the impact of novel pathogens.