Let the DOCTOR decide whom to test: Adaptive testing strategies to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic

Yu Liang, Amulya Yadav

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

A robust testing program is necessary for containing the spread of COVID-19 infections before a vaccine becomes available. However, due to an acute shortage of testing kits (especially in low-resource developing countries), designing an optimal testing program/strategy is a challenging problem to solve. Prior literature on testing strategies suffers from two major limitations: (i) it does not account for the trade-off between testing of symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals, and (ii) it primarily focuses on static testing strategies, which leads to significant shortcomings in the testing program’s effectiveness. In this paper, we address these limitations by making five novel contributions. (i) We formally define the optimal testing problem and propose the DOCTOR POMDP model to tackle it. (ii) We solve the DOCTOR POMDP using a scalable Monte Carlo tree search based algorithm. (iii) We provide a rigorous experimental analysis of DOCTOR’s testing strategies against static baselines - our results show that when applied to the city of Santiago in Panama, DOCTOR’s strategies result in ~40% fewer COVID-19 infections (over one month) as compared to state-of-the-art static baselines. (iv) In addition, we analyze DOCTOR’s testing policy to derive insights about the reasons behind the optimality of DOCTOR’s testing policy. (v) Finally, we characterize conditions (of the real world) under which DOCTOR’s optimization would be of most benefit to government policy makers, and thus requires significant attention from researchers in this area. Our work complements the growing body of research on COVID-19, and serves as a proof-of-concept that illustrates the benefit of having an AI-driven adaptive testing strategy for COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication20th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, AAMAS 2021
PublisherInternational Foundation for Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (IFAAMAS)
Pages790-798
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781713832621
StatePublished - 2021
Event20th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, AAMAS 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: May 3 2021May 7 2021

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, AAMAS
Volume2
ISSN (Print)1548-8403
ISSN (Electronic)1558-2914

Conference

Conference20th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, AAMAS 2021
CityVirtual, Online
Period5/3/215/7/21

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering

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