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COVID-19 seeding time and doubling time model: an early epidemic risk assessment tool

Lei Zhou, Jiang-Mei Liu, Xiao-Ping Dong, Jennifer M. McGoogan,
Published: 23 June 2020

Abstract: Background As COVID-19 makes its way around the globe, each nation must decide when and how to respond. Yet many knowledge gaps persist, and many countries lack the capacity to develop complex models to assess risk and response. This paper aimed to meet this need by developing a model that uses case reporting data as input and provides a four-tiered risk assessment output. Methods We used publicly available, country/territory level case reporting data to determine median seeding number, mean seeding time (ST), and several measures of mean doubling time (DT) for COVID-19. We then structured our model as a coordinate plane with ST on the x-axis, DT on the y-axis, and mean ST and mean DT dividing the plane into four quadrants, each assigned a risk level. Sensitivity analysis was performed and countries/territories early in their outbreaks were assessed for risk. Results Our main finding was that among 45 countries/territories evaluated, 87% were at high risk for their outbreaks entering a rapid growth phase epidemic. We furthermore found that the model was sensitive to changes in DT, and that these changes were consistent with what is officially known of cases reported and control strategies implemented in those countries. Conclusions Our main finding is that the ST/DT Model can be used to produce meaningful assessments of the risk of escalation in country/territory-level COVID-19 epidemics using only case reporting data. Our model can help support timely, decisive action at the national level as leaders and other decision makers face of the serious public health threat that is COVID-19.
Keywords: Seeding time / Doubling time / Case report / Risk assessment / SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19

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