Video Link:

The symposium is also streamed via Zoom:

Meeting-ID: 895 6036 8725
Kenncode: 000298
 In this symposium we discuss the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on scientific research, and how science reacted to the demands of improved health preservation, disease treatment and expert advise by policy makers and the public. Every catastrophe has one glimmer of hope: responses to future catastrophes are improved by rising awareness for problems that can cause significant damage to society. But how much have we really learned? Are we better prepared for future pandemics? How are pandemics linked to other global problems? The cornavirus unfortunately has not yet disappeared.

You can reserve a place for this symposium here in case you like to visit the symposium in person at the Mathematikon Heidelberg, and not only via Zoom. Please note we cannot guarantee a place, as places are very limited.


The symposium is a mixture of presentations and discussion rounds.

09:30 - 10:00 Welcome

  • 10:00 - 11:00 Presentation 1 - Economics, Michael Stolpe, IfW (includes discussion)
  • 11:00 - 12:00 Presentation 2 - Life Sciences, Medicine & History, Romedio Schmitz-Esser U Heidelberg, Miriam Lichtner, SM Goretti Hospital, Latina (includes discussion)
  • 12:00 - 13:00 Round Table 1 - Experiences and Suggestions: How did science perform during Covid-19 first responses?

13:00 - 14:30 Lunch Break

  • 14:30 - 15:30 Presentation 3 - Social Sciences, Matthias Gsänger, U Würzburg (includes discussion)
  • 15:30 - 16:30 Presentation 4 - Mathematical Modelling, Johannes Müller, Markus Kirkilionis (includes discussion)
16:30 - 17:00 Coffee Break

  • 17:00 - 18:30 Round Table 2 - Experiences and Suggestions: How did the mathematical modelling community perform during Covid-19, do other sciences care, what will the future bring?
18:30 - 19:00 Good Bye Snacks & Drinks

Confirmed speakers/panelists:

  • Markus Kirkilionis (University of Warwick)
  • Johannes Müller (TU München)
  • David Alonso Gimenez (CEAB-CSIC)
  • Matthias Gsänger (Universität Würzburg)
  • Miriam Fichtner (Chief of Infectious Disease Unit at SM Goretti Hospital, Latina, Full Professor in Infectious Disease at Department of Mental Health and Neuroscience NESMOS, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy)
  • Michael Stolpe (ifW Kiel)
  • Romedio Schmitz-Esser (Universität Heidelberg)
  • Robert MacKay (University of Warwick)


Michael Stolpe, Institut für Weltwirtschaft, Kiel
A brief introduction to economic epidemiology and some of its macroeconomic implications
This presentation gives a brief overview of some economic models of infectious disease dynamics that study the influence of individual incentives on self-protective behavior and its elasticity with respect to disease prevalence. The presentation compares the welfare implications of economic epidemiology with those of a purely statistical modeling approach to epidemiology and then proceeds with a discussion of policy implications, such as subsidies for testing, lockdowns of economic activity, and incentive issues around vaccines. Finally, some macroeconomic implications of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will be discussed.


Romedio Schmitz-Esser, Historisches Seminar, Heidelberg University
Infectious Diseases in Human History

In this talk, I will offer a glimpse into the past of infectious diseases and their societal consequences by highlighting some of the most significant episodes of their impact on human history. This technical approach is then widened by three perspectives that were opened up by recent transdisciplinary discussions on the topic. First, the perception of disease varies hugely in time and depends far less on the actual impact of the disease as on the cultural framework and societal reactions to it. A pandemic is therefore as much a cultural phenomenon as it is a medical reality. Second, our scientific view of diseases is constantly evolving, and new methods allow for a deeper understanding of the past. Third, our scientific understanding of diseases is constantly shifting, too, and cultural history can help to further our idea of how this process is happening. In this challenging perspective, diseases not only appear, they disappear as well into thin air, as their diagnosis is no longer thought to be valid in contemporary discourse. This makes a historian’s view on the topic not only more challenging in itself, as the problems of retro-diagnosis becomes evident, but it offers us a new view on the nature of diseases as a whole. With these steps, the paper tries to embed the story of Covid-19 in the broader framework of the history of infectious diseases.


Miriam Lichtner, Chief of Infectious Disease Unit at SM Goretti Hospital, Latina, Full Professor in Infectious Disease at Department of Mental Health and Neuroscience, NESMOS, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
COVID-19 pandemic response: clinical settings, access to therapy and comparative models.

On 11 March 2020 WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic infection. Many regions have experienced epidemic waves of COVID-19 since the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 with differences in mortality, clinical settings, and access to therapy.

A real word (RW) experience will be presented at a tertiary referral university hospital in the province of Latina. Epidemic dynamics and hospital organization to menage in- and out-patients will be described. A total of 3407 in-patients has been recorded, together with 4163 out-patients during these last 2 years. Demographics, clinical characteristics, therapeutical approaches and outcomes will been analyzed. The different waves will be compared in term of hospital response. 


Matthias Gsänger (Universität Würzburg)
Modelling "Culture" Possibilities and Frontiers.

Since the sheer amount of conceptions of "culture" in the social sciences and the humanities is notorius, and since I wish to avoid arbitrariness, I want to propose an approach which, I hope, is congenial to rule based dynamics and models, like the one you are working on.
The basic feature of this approach is the concept of "practices". Practices consists of "frames" and "habits". Frames are holistic descriptions of situations, we all use to orient ourself in this world. Habits are sets of possible behaviour derived from the respective frames. So practices function like rules.
Cultures are the defined as structured compositions of practices of a specific collective. By analyzing the practices and the very structure of their formation, it should be posible to derive sound hypotheses on how a collective or actors, performing practices, will answer to specific occurencews.
The approach is assumed to work on several social levels from the micro to the macro. It should be applicable to political systems (of nation states) as well as to organizations like hospitals.


Johannes Müller, TU München
Contact tracing, superspreaders, and apps

Abstract: The fight against Corona started with non-pharmaceutical control measures: social distancing, masks, and - last but not least - contact tracing. Particular hope was pinned on the novel technology of tracing apps.

Mathematical modeling of contact tracing presents some unique challenges: In addition to dependencies arising from the epidemic process, there are dependencies arising from following infectious contacts. In that, contact tracing is not only interesting in terms of the application, but also a nice opportunity to refine mathematical methods.

In this talk, we will discuss some approaches to analyzing contact tracing, what impact to expect, how the effectiveness of contact tracing is affected by superspreader events, and what we can hope for from tracing apps.

[1] Johannes Müller, Mirjam Kretzschmar
Contact Tracing – Old Models and New Challenges (Review paper)
Infectious Disease Modelling, 6 (2021), 222-231
[2] Johannes Müller, Volker Hösel
Contact Tracing & Super-Spreaders in the Branching-Process Model
JOMB, accepted 2021


Markus Kirkilionis, University of Warwick

How Can Mathematical Modelling Help To Manage Pandemics?
Abstract: Mathematical Modelling of pandemics has a long history, and can be seen as one of the success stories of Mathematical Biology. It has definitely contributed to our understanding of possible disease dynamics. But are we already close to truly predicting pandemics? And if we can, is there a way to manage pandemics, truly evaluating the effectiveness of interventions, such as lockdowns?