Penn State University
Bio: Jacopo is a postdoc research fellow at Pennsylvania State University and EMbeDS Sant’Anna School of Advances Studies. He did my PhD at the MOX Department of Mathematics, Politecnico di Milano under the supervision of Prof. Simone Vantini.
Title: The shapes of an epidemic: Functional Data Analysis characterizes the first COVID-19 epidemic wave in Italy.
Abstract: We investigate patterns of COVID-19 mortality across 20 Italian regions and their association with mobility, positivity, and socio-demographic, infrastructural and environmental covariates. Notwithstanding limitations in accuracy and resolution of the data available from public sources, we pinpoint significant trends exploiting information in curves and shapes with Functional Data Analysis techniques. These depict two starkly different epidemics; an “exponential” one unfolding in Lombardia and the worst hit areas of the north, and a milder, “flat(tened)” one in the rest of the country—including Veneto, where cases appeared concurrently with Lombardia but aggressive testing was implemented early on. We find that mobility and positivity can predict COVID-19 mortality, also when controlling for relevant covariates. Among the latter, primary care appears to mitigate mortality, and contacts in hospitals, schools and workplaces to aggravate it. The techniques we describe could capture additional and potentially sharper signals if applied to richer data.