A research paper resulting from an undergraduate project that looked at mathematical questions arising from the COVID epidemic has been accepted for publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper, “Selective Sweeps in SARS-CoV-2 Variant Competition,” is scheduled for publication later this month.
The paper was created as part of DOmath 2022, the annual summer program for collaborative student research in all areas of mathematics. The COVID project team and authors of the research paper was led by Professor Rick Durrett, and included team members Laura Boyle, Sofia Hletko, Jenny Huang, June Lee, Gaurav Pallod, and Math grad student Hwai-Ray Tung.
According to the authors: “The main contribution of this paper is to show that the transition from one SARS-CoV-2 variant to the next is mathematically equivalent to a selective sweep, which follows the logistic equation. Data show that this prediction is accurate. The increase in fitness from one variant to the next has two components: the increase in transmissibility and the contribution of breakthrough infections. This predicts that future dominant strains will be the ones that best evade immunity.”