Reaction-diffusion spatial modeling of COVID-19: Greece and Andalusia as case examples

P. G. Kevrekidis, J. Cuevas-Maraver, Y. Drossinos, Z. Rapti, G. A. Kevrekidis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examine the spatial modeling of the outbreak of COVID-19 in two regions: the autonomous community of Andalusia in Spain and the mainland of Greece. We start with a zero-dimensional (0D; ordinary-differential-equation-level) compartmental epidemiological model consisting of Susceptible, Exposed, Asymptomatic, (symptomatically) Infected, Hospitalized, Recovered, and deceased populations (SEAIHR model). We emphasize the importance of the viral latent period (reflected in the exposed population) and the key role of an asymptomatic population. We optimize model parameters for both regions by comparing predictions to the cumulative number of infected and total number of deaths, the reported data we found to be most reliable, via minimizing the 2 norm of the difference between predictions and observed data. We consider the sensitivity of model predictions on reasonable variations of model parameters and initial conditions, and we address issues of parameter identifiability. We model both the prequarantine and postquarantine evolution of the epidemic by a time-dependent change of the viral transmission rates that arises in response to containment measures. Subsequently, a spatially distributed version of the 0D model in the form of reaction-diffusion equations is developed. We consider that, after an initial localized seeding of the infection, its spread is governed by the diffusion (and 0D model "reactions") of the asymptomatic and symptomatically infected populations, which decrease with the imposed restrictive measures. We inserted the maps of the two regions, and we imported population-density data into the finite-element software package COMSOL Multiphysics®, which was subsequently used to numerically solve the model partial differential equations. Upon discussing how to adapt the 0D model to this spatial setting, we show that these models bear significant potential towards capturing both the well-mixed, zero-dimensional description and the spatial expansion of the pandemic in the two regions. Veins of potential refinement of the model assumptions towards future work are also explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number024412
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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