Complexity Explorer Santa Few Institute

Lecture: Pandemics

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3.2 Terminology » Glossary

  • antiviral     Pharmacological agents (drugs) that prevent the infection, replication or transmission of a viral pathogen
  • case-fatality rate (CFR)     A standard measure of the deadliness of a disease, expressed as the percentage of infected individuals (cases) who die from the disease
  • contact tracing     The practice of documenting all of the people to whom an infected individual could have transmitted the disease, with the goal of monitoring, isolating and/or treating those contacts so as to slow spread
  • digital (proxy) data     Large datasets from various digital sources that may serve as an indirect measure of the data of interest; for example, the number of Google searches for "flu", "fever", "symptoms", etc. may serve as an estimate of the number of influenza cases
  • edge     An interaction between two nodes in a network 
  • efficacy     The ability of a vaccine to prevent infection, usually expressed as a percentage of vaccinated patients who are exposed to the pathogen but do not develop symptoms of the associated disease
  • epidemic     An outbreak of an infectuous disease that spreads rapidly to affect a large number of people in a short period of time
  • exponential growth     A growth rate that changes according to the size of the population, for example, a population might grow 100% per day [100 > 200 > 400 > 800 > 1600]; sustained exponential growth requires that resources are not limiting
  • herd immunity     The prevention of infectuous disease spread within a population, even to susceptible individuals, because of a sufficiently high proportion of immune individuals; immunity is most often attributable to vaccination
  • host     The organism infected and affected by a pathogen; although the host may be asymptomatic for a variety of reasons, the host is nontheless vulnerable to infection and likely to exhibit an immune response to the pathogen 
  • incubation period     The time between infection and first symptoms; refers to the time required for the pathogen to attack host cells/organs and elicit an immune response
  • network     A graph that describes the interactions between multiple, discrete entities (for instance, people, households, companies, cities, etc.)
  • node     A vertex in a network; corresponds to the entities in the network 
  • pandemic     An outbreak of an infectuous disease that spreads rapidly to affect an extremely large number of people across vast geographic areas in a short period of time; an epidemic of an especially large scope
  • pathogen     A disease-causing organism, such as a virus, bacterium, fungus, or parasite
  • pre-pandemic     An infectuous disease that has the potential to emerge as an epidemic or pandemic as evidenced by widespread prevalance of the infectuous agent (for instance, in a vector) and past outbreaks of the disease; for example, the bird flu virus is endemic in poultry populations in many countries and caused a severe influenza outbreak in humans in 1997
  • reproduction number (R0)    In a fully susceptible population, the number of individuals expected to be infected by transmission from one infected individual
  • surface antigen     A molecule (often protein) that sits on the outer face of a cell or virus; surface antigens on an invading pathogen are accessible to be recognized by the immune system and prompt clearance of the pathogen
  • transmissibility     The probability that a susceptible individual in a population will become infected when they come into contact with an infected individual
  • vaccine hesitancy     The skepticism, concern or objection of individuals towards vaccination, generally for religious observance or due to folk beliefs
  • vector     An organism that serves as an intermediate carrier of a pathogen between hosts, physically transferring the pathogen from one host to another
  • viral load     The number of viral particles carried by an infected individual; generally, higher viral load leads to greater transmissibility