Stochastic social behavior coupled to COVID-19 dynamics leads to waves, plateaus and an endemic state

Alexei V. Tkachenko, Sergei Maslov, Tong Wang, Ahmed Elbanna, George N. Wong, Nigel Goldenfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is well recognized that population heterogeneity plays an important role in the spread of epidemics. While individual variations in social activity are often assumed to be persistent, i.e. constant in time, here we discuss the consequences of dynamic heterogeneity. By integrating the stochastic dynamics of social activity into traditional epidemiological models, we demonstrate the emergence of a new long timescale governing the epidemic, in broad agreement with empirical data. Our Stochastic Social Activity model captures multiple features of real-life epidemics such as COVID-19, including prolonged plateaus and multiple waves, which are transiently suppressed due to the dynamic nature of social activity. The existence of a long timescale due to the interplay between epidemic and social dynamics provides a unifying picture of how a fast-paced epidemic typically will transition to an endemic state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere68341
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Novel coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)
  • 2019-nCoV
  • Pandemic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Stochastic social behavior coupled to COVID-19 dynamics leads to waves, plateaus and an endemic state'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this