Epidemic Spreading and Equilibrium Social Distancing in Heterogeneous Networks

Hamed Amini, Andreea Minca

We study a multi-type SIR epidemic process among a heterogeneous population that interacts through a network. When we base social contact on a random graph with given vertex degrees, we give limit theorems on the fraction of infected individuals. For a given social distancing individual strategies, we establish the epidemic reproduction number $R_0$ which can be used to identify network vulnerability and inform vaccination policies. In the second part of the paper we study the equilibrium of the social distancing game, in which individuals choose their social distancing level according to an anticipated global infection rate, which then must equal the actual infection rate following their choices. We give conditions for the existence and uniqueness of equilibrium. For the case of random regular graphs, we show that voluntary social distancing will always be socially sub-optimal.

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