S01E05: Daniel Coombs on COVID-19 Mathematical Modelling

Our guest for this episode is Daniel Coombs, a professor in the Department of Mathematics at UBC and an Associate of the Peter Wall Institute (PWIAS). Coombs is also an expert on multi-scale infectious disease models and a member of the Mathematical Biology Group and the Institute of Applied Mathematics at UBC.

In this episode, PWIAS Interim Director and Ways of Knowing host Kalina Christoff and Coombs discuss the mathematical modelling of the new coronavirus and how it can be used to improve our response to the current outbreak. The discussion focuses on three recent mathematical models with relevance to COVID-19 public policy:

This episode was produced remotely, with Coombs and Christoff recording from their respective homes.

Stay tuned for our next episode, featuring a conversation with Ninan Abraham, a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UBC and a member of the Infection, Inflammation and Immunity Research Group.

Listen to episode five below, and make sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.


The Peter Wall Institute is proud to present the Ways of Knowing podcast. Join Kalina Christoff, a Professor of Psychology at UBC and Interim Director of the Peter Wall Institute, as she explores how scholars and artists think about their areas of expertise and beyond. You can find all of our episodes here.

Links to content mentioned in this episode:

Coombs, D. (2020). Real-time modelling of the 2020 coronavirus epidemic. UBC Physics & Astronomy colloquium, March 19.

Ferguson, N. M., et al. (2020). Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand. Imperial College, London.

Gupta, S., et al. (2020). Fundamental principles of epidemic spread highlight the immediate need for large-scale serological surveys to assess the stage of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic.

Chikina, M., Pegden, W. (2020). Fighting COVID-19: the heterogeneous transmission thesis.

Katz, D. (2020). A proposed framework for risk-based interdiction of coronavirus.


Image copyright Jennifer Ciarochi.


Other episodes:


Ep 10: Suzanne Simmard on How Trees Communicate with Each Other



Episode 9: Candis Callison and Mary Lynn Young
on Journalism’s Limits and Possibilities



Episode 8: Steven Reynolds on Treating Patients During a Pandemic



Episode 7: Lisa Sundstrom on Protecting Civil Liberties in Times of Crisis



Episode 6: Ninan Abraham on how the immune system
protects us from pathogens like SARS-CoV-2



Episode 4: Tara Mayer on the Value of Discomfort in Education



Episode 3: Hannah McGregor on Academic Freedom



Episode 2: Max Cameron on Political Institutions



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