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The 2019 SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic (COVID-19): History, Models, Observations, Sustainability Implications, and Prospects

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Presentation Abstract

The COVID-19 Pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 is, perhaps, the most impactful historical event of the second decade of the 21st Century CE. Across the World, there are more than 160 million confirmed infections and more than 3 million deaths attributed to the disease2. The pandemic has further had widespread environmental, economic, and social impacts. Pandemics have occurred throughout history, and here we review the highlights of three past events from antiquity, the middle ages, and modern times. There are aggregate parameter models also known as mean-field models that are widely used to understand the course of epidemics like COVID-19, and here we review the Susceptible-Infected-Recovered Model (SIR) and some of its modifications. As one can surmise, there is by now a good amount of time series data available characterizing the course of the COVID-19 pandemic for the World as a whole and nearly every country on Earth. We will discuss and contrast the course of the pandemic for: The World, the USA, Italy, India, and Japan. These four countries are representative of different geographical and cultural regions. A new approach which the authors have pioneered is the application of Fisher information to develop further insight into the dynamics of the pandemic. Preliminary results indicate that there are periods of time when study of the time series data can yield insights, but there are also periods where little information can be gathered. There also seem to be some universality to the dynamics which can be exploited in any effort to optimally manage the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is known that the pandemic has had environmental, economic, and social implications, and we will discuss some of these implications through the lens of global sustainability. Lastly, we recognize that forecasting the future course of an on-going event such as the COVID-19 pandemic is fraught with great uncertainty, but we will discuss likely near future outcomes and attempt to interpret their significance.


Heriberto Cabezas

Professor, Pazmany Peter Catholic University

Heriberto Cabezas serves as Professor at the Institute for Process Systems Engineering and Sustainability and Center Director of the International Advanced Bioethics Center for Technology and Engineering at the Pazmany Peter Catholic University in Budapest, Hungary. He recently retired as Senior Science Advisor to the Land and Material Management Division in the U.S. EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD).

At the Pazmany Peter Catholic University, he is responsible for conducting research on global sustainability science and policy, Graph Theory (P-Graph specifically) for network design including manufacturing processes, supply chains, and product and services distribution. He is Chair of the Engineers Forum on Sustainability, a workgroup of all of the major professional engineering societies.

His awards include: 1998 U.S. EPA Science Achievement Award in Engineering, 2007 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, 2011 Research Excellence Award in Sustainable Engineering from the AIChE, ORD Sustainability Award (team) from the U.S. EPA, 2013 Lawrence K. Cecil Award in Environmental Chemical Engineering from the AIChE.

Dr. Cabezas holds a Ph.D. from the University of Florida in thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, a M.S. from the University of Florida, and a B.S. (magna cum laude) from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, all in chemical engineering. He served as Embassy Science Fellow at the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb, Croatia in 2014. Dr. Cabezas is the co-founder of the Trans-Atlantic Research and Development Interchange on Sustainability (TARDIS), a think-tank type workshop series held on alternate years since 2003 alternating between Europe and the United States. He organized and co-leads the international Workgroup on Global Sustainability from his appointment at the Pazmany Peter Catholic University.

His publications include over ninety peer-reviewed articles and chapters, two edited books, and two major software. He is a Fellow of the AIChE, a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Board-Certified Member of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists. Dr. Cabezas’ current research interests focus on: (1) the design of sustainable chemical processes and supply chains, (2) the design of sustainable productions systems in the nexus of food-energy-water, and (3) global sustainability. Dr. Cabezas is a decorated U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam Conflict.


Heriberto Cabezas

Heriberto Cabezas is a Professor in the Research Institute of Applied Earth Sciences at the University of Miskolc in Hungary. He is a former Professor (2015-2020) at the Laudato Si Institute for Process Systems Engineering and Sustainability at the Pazmany Peter Catholic University in Budapest, Hungary. He retired (04/2019) as the Senior Science Advisor to the Land and Material Management Division in the U.S. EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD). At the U.S. EPA he was responsible for the oversight of the scientific research teams under the guidance of the division...Read more