A look inside the rapid spread of the coronavirus, what are we missing?

In December 2019, the first cases of the coronavirus were identified in Wuhan, China. As the number of infections and subsequent patient deaths has continued to rise, the struggle to treat and contain the spread of the virus has become a worldwide concern for both medical professionals and world leaders.

For this episode I am joined by Richard Larson, post-tenure professor in the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, whose recently published article with the INFORMS magazine OR/MS Today, “The 2019-nCoV Coronavirus: Are there two routes to infection?” looks at the possible reasons this virus is spreading so rapidly.

Interviewed this episode:

Richard Larson


Prof. Richard Larson’s career has focused his operations research and systems expertise on a wide variety of problems, in both public and private sectors. He is author, co-author or editor of six books and author or co-author of over 175 scientific articles, primarily in the fields of urban service systems (esp. emergency response systems), disaster planning, pandemics, queueing, logistics, technology-enabled education, smart-energy houses and workforce planning. His first book, Urban Police Patrol Analysis (MIT Press, 1972) was awarded the Lanchester Prize of the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA). He is co-author, with Amedeo Odoni, of the widely used Urban Operations Research, Prentice Hall, 1981 (over 1,000 citations). Prof. Larson’s research on queues has not only resulted in new computational techniques (e.g., the Queue Inference Engine – an early example of data-driven research — and the Hypercube Queueing Model – 740 citations), but has also been covered extensively in national and international media.