SIR+ models: accounting for interaction-dependent disease susceptibility in the planning of public health interventions

Maria M. Martignoni, Aura Raulo, Omer Linkovski, Oren Kolodny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Avoiding physical contact is regarded as one of the safest and most advisable strategies to follow to reduce pathogen spread. The flip side of this approach is that a lack of social interactions may negatively affect other dimensions of health, like induction of immunosuppressive anxiety and depression or preventing interactions of importance with a diversity of microbes, which may be necessary to train our immune system or to maintain its normal levels of activity. These may in turn negatively affect a population’s susceptibility to infection and the incidence of severe disease. We suggest that future pandemic modelling may benefit from relying on ‘SIR+ models’: epidemiological models extended to account for the benefits of social interactions that affect immune resilience. We develop an SIR+ model and discuss which specific interventions may be more effective in balancing the trade-off between minimizing pathogen spread and maximizing other interaction-dependent health benefits. Our SIR+ model reflects the idea that health is not just the mere absence of disease, but rather a state of physical, mental and social well-being that can also be dependent on the same social connections that allow pathogen spread, and the modelling of public health interventions for future pandemics should account for this multidimensionality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12908
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 5 Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • Disease management
  • Disease spread
  • Health policies
  • Immunity debt
  • Mathematical model
  • Microbiome
  • Microbiome transmission
  • Optimal policy
  • Physical distancing
  • Public health
  • SIR
  • SIR+
  • Social distancing


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