Shailik Sarkar, Abdulaziz Alhamadani


Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak, various works have focused on using multitude of different static and dynamic features to aid the prediction of disease forecasting models. However, in the absence of historical pandemic data these models will not be able to give any meaningful insight about the areas which are most likely to be affected based on preexisting conditions. Furthermore, the black box nature of neural networks often becomes an impediment for the concerned authorities to derive any meaning from. In this paper, we propose a novel explainable Graph Neural Network (GNN) framework called Graph-COVID-19-Explainer (GC-Explainer) that gives explainable prediction for the severity of the spread during initial outbreak. We utilize a comprehensive set of static population characteristics to use as node features of Graph where each node corresponds to a geographical region. Unlike post-hoc methods of GNN explanations, we propose a framework for learning important features during the training of the model. We further apply our model on real-world early pandemic data to show the validity of our approach. Through GC-Explainer, we show that static features along with spatial dependency among regions can be used to explain the varied degree of severity in outbreak during the early part of the pandemic and provide a framework to identify the at-risk areas for any infectious disease outbreak, especially when historical data is not available.

Shailik Sarkar, Abdulaziz Alhamadani, Chang-Tien Lu: Explainable Prediction of the Severity of COVID-19 Outbreak for US Counties. IEEE Big Data 2022: 5338-5345


Publication Details

Date of publication:
January 26, 2023
Big Data
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