Multi-Objective Model-based Reinforcement Learning for Infectious Disease Control

Runzhe Wan, Xinyu Zhang, and Rui Song (North Carolina State University)

Abstract: Severe infectious diseases such as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pose a huge threat to public health. Stringent control measures, such as school closures and stay-at-home orders, while having significant effects, also bring huge economic losses. In the face of an emerging infectious disease, a crucial question for policymakers is how to make the trade-off and implement the appropriate interventions timely, with the existence of huge uncertainty. In this work, we propose a Multi-Objective Model-based Reinforcement Learning framework to facilitate data-driven decision making and minimize the long-term overall cost. Specifically, at each decision point, a Bayesian epidemiological model is first learned as the environment model, and then the proposed model-based multi-objective planning algorithm is applied to find a set of Pareto-optimal policies. This framework, combined with the prediction bands for each policy, provides a real-time decision support tool for policymakers. The application is demonstrated with the spread of COVID-19 in China.