This week, we highlight research on the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout that leverages open-source software.

OSPC-incubated projects used to analyze congressional plans for cash rebates. To ease the economic consequences of COVID-19, Congress is debating various plans to send direct cash payments to American households. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget used Tax-Brain* to estimate the total costs of a range of proposals. In addition, Ernie Tedeschi (Evercore ISI) used Tax-Calculator* to analyze the distributional impacts of policy options and the percentage of people across the income spectrum who would receive the proposed rebates, and he continues to update his analysis.

Evaluating other policy options to mitigate economic fallout. Before cash rebates were considered by Congress, President Trump proposed a payroll tax holiday to stimulate the economy. Researchers, including Kyle Pomerleau (AEI), Tedeschi, Matt Jensen (AEI), and Aparna Mathur and Erin Melly (AEI), turned to Tax-Brain* and Tax-Cruncher* to estimate the economic impacts of the proposal.

Open-source tool for predicting hospital admissions and equipment needs. One of the biggest problems we face is ensuring enough hospital beds and equipment for people who will need hospitalization. To help hospital administrators and policymakers predict future hospital needs, a team at Penn Medicine has created a tool that predicts the number of patients who will need hospitalization, admission to the ICU, and/or access to a ventilator, given customizable parameters relating to the facility and region, as well as assumptions about the spread of the virus. Link

Influential epidemiological model to be open sourced. Last week, Neil Ferguson — a prominent epidemiologist at Imperial College London — and a team of researchers published a report that simulates the effects of various control measures against COVID-19. In addition to garnering significant public attention, the model’s results have been used to inform policymaking in the United Kingdom. As Ferguson explains on Twitter, a team composed of members from Microsoft, GitHub, Imperial College, and the World Health Organization are working together to open source the code. Link

Tracking the spread of COVID-19 with real-time genome data. As a virus is transmitted from person to person, random mutations occur to the pathogen’s genomes. As the pathogen continues to mutate, similar genomes indicate closely related transmissions. For this reason, scientists track mutations to learn about important epidemiological phenomena such as spread, timing, and growth rate. Nextstrain collects publicly available pathogen genome data and constructs interactive data visualizations to assist virologists, epidemiologists, and public health officials. Link

* These projects are attendees or graduates of OSPC’s incubator program.

Edited by Matt Jensen and Peter Metz