When confronted with a globally spreading epidemic, we seek efficient strategies for drug dissemination, creating a competition between supply and demand at a global scale. Propagating along similar networks, e.g., air-transportation, the spreading dynamics of the supply vs. the demand are, however, fundamentally different, with the pathogens driven by contagion dynamics, and the drugs by commodity flow. We show that these different dynamics lead to intrinsically distinct spreading patterns: while viruses spread homogeneously across all destinations, creating a concurrent global demand, commodity flow unavoidably leads to a highly uneven spread, in which selected nodes are rapidly supplied, while the majority remains deprived. Consequently, even under ideal conditions of extreme production and shipping capacities, due to the inherent heterogeneity of network-based commodity flow, efficient mitigation becomes practically unattainable, as homogeneous demand is met by highly heterogeneous supply. Therefore, we propose here a decentralized mitigation strategy, based on local production and dissemination of therapeutics, that, in effect, bypasses the existing distribution networks. Such decentralization is enabled thanks to the recent development of digitizable therapeutics, based on, e.g., short DNA sequences or printable chemical compounds, that can be distributed as digital sequence files and synthesized on location via DNA/3D printing technology. We test our decentralized mitigation under extremely challenging conditions, such as suppressed local production rates or low therapeutic efficacy, and find that thanks to its homogeneous nature, it consistently outperforms the centralized alternative, saving many more lives with significantly less resources.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes