Discontinuous transitions of social distancing in the SIR model

R. Arazi, A. Feigel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


To describe the dynamics of social distancing during pandemics, we follow previous efforts to combine basic epidemiology models (e.g. SIR — Susceptible, Infected, and Recovered) with game and economic theory tools. We present an extension of the SIR model that predicts a series of discontinuous transitions in social distancing. Each transition resembles a phase transition of the second-order (Ginzburg–Landau instability) and, therefore, potentially a general phenomenon. The first wave of COVID-19 led to social distancing around the globe: severe lockdowns to stop the pandemic were followed by a series of lockdown lifts. Data analysis of the first wave in Austria, Israel, and Germany corroborates the soundness of the model. Furthermore, this work presents analytical tools to analyze pandemic waves, which may be extended to calculate derivatives of giant components in network percolation transitions and may also be of interest in the context of crisis formation theories.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number125632
JournalPhysica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2021

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© 2020 Elsevier B.V.


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