Prioritizing interventions for preventing COVID-19 outbreaks in military basic training

Guido España, T. Alex Perkins*, Simon D. Pollett, Morgan E. Smith, Sean M. Moore, Paul O. Kwon, Tara L. Hall, Milford H. Beagle, Clinton K. Murray, Shilpa Hakre, Sheila A. Peel, Kayvon Modjarrad, Paul T. Scott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Like other congregate living settings, military basic training has been subject to outbreaks of COVID-19. We sought to identify improved strategies for preventing outbreaks in this setting using an agent-based model of a hypothetical cohort of trainees on a U.S. Army post. Our analysis revealed unique aspects of basic training that require customized approaches to outbreak prevention, which draws attention to the possibility that customized approaches may be necessary in other settings, too. In particular, we showed that introductions by trainers and support staff may be a major vulnerability, given that those individuals remain at risk of community exposure throughout the training period. We also found that increased testing of trainees upon arrival could actually increase the risk of outbreaks, given the potential for false-positive test results to lead to susceptible individuals becoming infected in group isolation and seeding outbreaks in training units upon release. Until an effective transmission-blocking vaccine is adopted at high coverage by individuals involved with basic training, need will persist for non-pharmaceutical interventions to prevent outbreaks in military basic training. Ongoing uncertainties about virus variants and breakthrough infections necessitate continued vigilance in this setting, even as vaccination coverage increases.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1010489
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number10 October
StatePublished - Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes


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