Statistical Research on COVID-19 Response




Huang, Xiaolin

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COVID-19 has affected the lives of millions of people worldwide. This thesis includes two statistical studies on the response to COVID-19. The first study explores the impact of lockdown timing on COVID-19 transmission across US counties. We used functional principal component analysis to extract COVID-19 transmission patterns from county-wise case counts, and used supervised machine learning to identify risk factors, with the timing of lockdowns being the most significant. In particular, we found a critical time point for lockdowns, as lockdowns implemented after this time point were associated with significantly more cases and faster spread. The second study proposes an adaptive sample pooling strategy for efficient COVID-19 diagnostic testing. When testing a cohort, our strategy dynamically updates the prevalence estimate after each test if possible, and uses the updated information to choose the optimal pool size for the subsequent test. Simulation studies show that compared to traditional pooling strategies, our strategy reduces the number of tests required to test a cohort and is more resilient to inaccurate prevalence inputs. We have developed a dashboard application to guide the clinicians through the test procedure when using our strategy.



Covid-19, Functional principal component analysis, Elastic net, Lockdown, Adaptive, Pooling, Testing