CASUS Institute Seminar, Jeffery Joseph Demers, PhD, is postdoc at the Center for Advanced Systems Understanding CASUS at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and at the University of Maryland, College Park (USA).

Jeff holds Bachelor degrees in mathematics and physics. He received his PhD in physics at the University of Maryland in 2017 and then was a Smithsonian Fellow at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal (USA) before joining again the University of Maryland as a postdoc.

Abstract of the talk // When COVID-19 testing resources have fallen short of demand (as occurred during the initial outbreak), experts and health agencies have recommended the prioritization of testing supplies to the most severely symptomatic and vulnerable patients typically found in clinical settings, rather than to non-clinical cases associated with mildly or non-symptomatic individuals targeted by contact tracing and population monitoring programs.

The optimality of this advice, however, is not guaranteed due in part to widespread pre-symptomatic transmission caused by offsets between the latent and incubation periods of the various COVID-19 variants, as well as transmission due to permanently asymptomatic spreaders. To analyze optimal constrained testing resource allocation strategies under challenging disease dynamics, Jeff and his team develop a partial-integro differential equation disease model which utilizes the age-of-infection to incorporate variable latent and incubation period distributions.

The flexibility of this model facilitates realistic analysis of not only COVID-19, but also diseases like smallpox, 2003 SARS, and hepatitis such that a spectrum of diverse disease characteristics can be analyzed and compared all under the same lens. The findings are that disease controllability and optimal strategies depend on complicated (sometimes counterintuitive) interactions between disease strength, latent-incubation offsets, and resource availability among other factors. Collectively, the team’s results provide broad guidelines for resource management and controllability expectations under limited testing resources for both the current pandemic and the next inevitable novel disease outbreak.

Jeff is one of the main scientists behind the CASUS Open Project “An optimal control approach to maximizing the benefits of limited testing capacity in an emerging pandemic”. He will visit CASUS in mid-December to exchange with members of the Where2Test team and other CASUS scientists. He will talk live at the Institute Seminar. However, as the event is organized in a hybrid format that includes a videoconferencing tool by Zoom Inc., people interested in the topic have the chance to also join the talk remotely. Please ask for the login details via