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Robust Global Trends during Pandemics: Analysing the Interplay of Biological and Social Processes

The essence of the stochastic processes behind the empirical data on infection and fatality during pandemics is the complex interdependence between biological and social factors. Their balance can be checked on the data of new virus outbreaks, where the population is unprepared to fight the viral biology and social measures and healthcare systems adjust with a delay.

Using a complex systems perspective, we combine network mapping with K-means clustering and multifractal detrended fluctuations analysis to identify typical trends in fatality rate data.

We analyse global data of (normalised) fatality time series recorded during the first two years of the recent pandemic caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 as an appropriate example.

Our results reveal six clusters with robust patterns of mortality progression that represent specific adaptations to prevailing biological factors. They make up two significant groups that coincide with the topological communities of the correlation network, with stabilising (group g1) and continuously increasing rates (group g2). Strong cyclic trends and multifractal small-scale fluctuations around them characterise these patterns.

The rigorous analysis and the proposed methodology shed more light on the complex nonlinear shapes of the pandemic’s main characteristic curves, which have been discussed extensively in the literature regarding the global infectious diseases that have affected humanity throughout its history.

In addition to better pandemic preparedness in the future, the presented methodology can also help to differentiate and predict other trends in pandemics, such as fatality rates, caused simultaneously by different viruses in particular geographic locations.

M. M. Dankulov, B. Tadic, R. Melnik, Robust Global Trends during Pandemics: Analysing the Interplay of Biological and Social Processes, Dynamics 3(4) (2023) 764-776 DOI: 10.3390/dynamics3040041.

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