Nevin Manimala Statistics

Estimating the basic reproduction number at the beginning of an outbreak

PLoS One. 2022 Jun 17;17(6):e0269306. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0269306. eCollection 2022.


We compare several popular methods of estimating the basic reproduction number, R0, focusing on the early stages of an epidemic, and assuming weekly reports of new infecteds. We study the situation when data is generated by one of three standard epidemiological compartmental models: SIR, SEIR, and SEAIR; and examine the sensitivity of the estimators to the model structure. As some methods are developed assuming specific epidemiological models, our work adds a study of their performance in both a well-specified (data generating model and method model are the same) and miss-specified (data generating model and method model differ) settings. We also study R0 estimation using Canadian COVID-19 case report data. In this study we focus on examples of influenza and COVID-19, though the general approach is easily extendable to other scenarios. Our simulation study reveals that some estimation methods tend to work better than others, however, no singular best method was clearly detected. In the discussion, we provide recommendations for practitioners based on our results.

PMID:35714080 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0269306

By Nevin Manimala

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