PLOS Glob Public Health. 2023 Dec 13;3(12):e0002679. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgph.0002679. eCollection 2023.
Brazil was one of the countries most affected during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, in a pre-vaccine era, and mathematical and statistical models were used in decision-making and public policies to mitigate and suppress SARS-CoV-2 dispersion. In this article, we intend to overview the modeling for COVID-19 in Brazil, focusing on the first 18 months of the pandemic. We conducted a scoping review and searched for studies on infectious disease modeling methods in peer-reviewed journals and gray literature, published between January 01, 2020, and June 2, 2021, reporting real-world or scenario-based COVID-19 modeling for Brazil. We included 81 studies, most corresponding to published articles produced in Brazilian institutions. The models were dynamic and deterministic in the majority. The predominant model type was compartmental, but other models were also found. The main modeling objectives were to analyze epidemiological scenarios (testing interventions’ effectiveness) and to project short and long-term predictions, while few articles performed economic impact analysis. Estimations of the R0 and transmission rates or projections regarding the course of the epidemic figured as major, especially at the beginning of the crisis. However, several other outputs were forecasted, such as the isolation/quarantine effect on transmission, hospital facilities required, secondary cases caused by infected children, and the economic effects of the pandemic. This study reveals numerous articles with shared objectives and similar methods and data sources. We observed a deficiency in addressing social inequities in the Brazilian context within the utilized models, which may also be expected in several low- and middle-income countries with significant social disparities. We conclude that the models were of great relevance in the pandemic scenario of COVID-19. Nevertheless, efforts could be better planned and executed with improved institutional organization, dialogue among research groups, increased interaction between modelers and epidemiologists, and establishment of a sustainable cooperation network.