COVID-19 abatement strategies have risks and uncertainties which could lead to repeating waves of infection. We show—as proof of concept grounded on rigorous mathematical evidence—that periodic, high-frequency alternation of into, and out-of, lockdown effectively mitigates second-wave effects, while allowing continued, albeit reduced, economic activity. Periodicity confers (i) predictability, which is essential for economic sustainability, and (ii) robustness, since lockdown periods are not activated by uncertain measurements over short time scales. In turn—while not eliminating the virus—this fast switching policy is sustainable over time, and it mitigates the infection until a vaccine or treatment becomes available, while alleviating the social costs associated with long lockdowns. Typically, the policy might be in the form of 1-day of work followed by 6-days of lockdown every week (or perhaps 2 days working, 5 days off) and it can be modified at a slow-rate based on measurements filtered over longer time scales. Our results highlight the potential efficacy of high frequency switching interventions in post lockdown mitigation. All code is available on Github at https://github.com/V4p1d/FPSP_Covid19. A software tool has also been developed so that interested parties can explore the proof-of-concept system.


© 2021 Bin et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Cite as

Bin, M., Cheung, P., Crisostomi, E., Ferraro, P., Lhachemi, H., Murray-Smith, R., Myant, C., Parisini, T., Shorten, R., Stein, S. & Stone, L. 2021, 'Post-lockdown abatement of COVID-19 by fast periodic switching', PLoS Computational Biology, 17(1), article no: e100860. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1008604

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Last updated: 17 June 2022
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