Mathematical models are formal and simplified representations of the knowledge related to a phenomenon. In classical epidemic models, a major simplification consists in assuming that the infectious period is exponentially distributed, then implying that the chance of recovery is independent on the time since infection. Here, we first attempt to investigate the consequences of relaxing this assumption on the performances of time-variant disease control strategies by using optimal control theory. In the framework of a basic susceptible–infected–removed (SIR) model, an Erlang distribution of the infectious period is considered and optimal isolation strategies are searched for. The objective functional to be minimized takes into account the cost of the isolation efforts per time unit and the sanitary costs due to the incidence of the epidemic outbreak. Applying the Pontryagin’s minimum principle, we prove that the optimal control problem admits only bang–bang solutions with at most two switches. In particular, the optimal strategy could be postponing the starting intervention time with respect to the beginning of the outbreak. Finally, by means of numerical simulations, we show how the shape of the optimal solutions is affected by the different distributions of the infectious period, by the relative weight of the two cost components, and by the initial conditions.
On the optimal control of SIR model with Erlang-distributed infectious period: isolation strategies / Bolzoni, L.; Della Marca, R.; Groppi, M.. - In: JOURNAL OF MATHEMATICAL BIOLOGY. - ISSN 0303-6812. - 83:4(2021), p. 36.36. [10.1007/s00285-021-01668-1]
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