Getting started with Epi

Quickstart Tutorial: a COVID-19 model example

This quickstart tutorial will introduce you to the basics of working with Epi. The steps include:

Step 1: Install Epi

Epi is a Package within the Syncrosim simulation modeling framework; as such, Epi requires that the SyncroSim software be installed on your computer. Download and install the latest version of SyncroSim here. If you choose to run Epi, you will also need to install R version 4.0.0 or higher, and the Epi add-on package, epiModelVocVaccine.

Note: The Epi package includes a template Library, covid19-example.ssim, that contains example inputs and outputs. Installation of R and the add-on epiModelVocVaccine package is not required to view the template Library.

Once all required programs are installed, open SyncroSim, select File -> Packages… -> Install…, select the epi package and click OK.

Step 2: Create a new Epi Library

Having installed the Epi Package, you are now ready to create your first SyncroSim Library. A Library is a file (with extension .ssim) that contains all of your model inputs and outputs. The format of each Library is specific to the Package for which it was initially created. To create a new Library, choose New Library… from the File menu.

In this window:

When you are ready to create the Library file, click OK. A new Library will be created and loaded into the Library Explorer.

Step 3: View model inputs and outputs

The contents of your newly created Library are now displayed in the Library Explorer. Model inputs in SyncroSim are organized into Scenarios, where each Scenario consists of a suite of values, one for each of the Model’s required inputs.

Because you chose the Epi template when you created your Library, your Library already contains three scenarios:

This opens the Scenario Properties window. The Datafeeds datasheet displays a list of all data sources for the Scenario. In this case, there is only one data source, the Data - All Data datasheet.

The Data - All Data datasheet contains data of daily and cumulative COVID-19 cases for 195 countries from 2020-01-22 to 2021-06-29. These data were downloaded from the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Data Repository and have been smoothed to remove seasonal effects.

Open the Forecast - Status Quo Scenario. Click on the Models tab and navigate to Run Settings under the Inputs drop-down. This is where parameters for the VOC + Vaccine Model: Run Model are defined.

Further down in the Inputs drop-down menu is the datasheet, Vaccination Rates. This datasheet contains historic rates of vaccination beginning in 2020-12-29, as well as current and future rates.

Open the Forecast - Additional Vaccines Scenario and explore the datasheets available in each tab. You will notice that this Scenario is identical the Forecast - Status Quo Scenario, except for the vaccination rate for the date 2021-10-01. This Scenario will forecast future COVID-19 cases given higher rates of vaccination compared to lower vaccination rates under a status-quo scenario.

Each of these three Scenarios have already been run and contain model outputs in corresponding Results Scenarios, which can be found under the drop-down menu of each Scenario in the Results folder. These Results Scenarios were generated by selecting individual Scenarios and clicking the green Run Scenario button in the SyncroSim tool bar. We will view these results next using the Charts window.

Step 4: Running the model

In order to run the model, SyncroSim needs the file path of your R executable. To verify the Default file path, double-click on the Covid-19 Example Library and navigate to the R Configuration tab. To override the Default file path, click Browse… and navigate to the correct file location.

Once your Covid-19 Example Library is configured, you can run the model by right-clicking on the Forecast - Status Quo Scenario and selecting Run from the context menu. If prompted to save your project, click Yes. If the run is successful, you will see a Status of Done in the Run Monitor window, at which point you can close the Run Monitor window; otherwise, click on the Run Log link to see a report of any problems. Make any necessary changes to your Scenario, then re-run the Scenario.

Repeat the steps above to run the Forecast - Additional Vaccines Scenario.