Understanding the patterns of infectious diseases spread in the population is an important element of mitigation and vaccination programs. A major and common characteristic of most infectious diseases is age-related heterogeneity in the transmission, which potentially can affect the dynamics of an epidemic as manifested by the pattern of disease incidence in different age groups. Currently there are no statistical criteria of how to partition the disease incidence data into clusters. We develop the first data-driven methodology for deciding on the best partition of incidence data into age-groups, in a well defined statistical sense. The method employs a top-down hierarchical partitioning algorithm, with a stopping criteria based on multiple hypotheses significance testing controlling the family wise error rate. The type one error and statistical power of the method are tested using simulations. The method is then applied to Covid-19 incidence data in Israel, in order to extract the significant age-group clusters in each wave of the epidemic.
- epidemic modelling
- multiple testing