Challenges in control of Covid-19: short doubling time and long delay to effect of interventions

Lorenzo Pellis, Francesca Scarabel, Helena B. Stage, Christopher E. Overton, Lauren H. K. Chappell, Katrina A. Lythgoe, Elizabeth Fearon, Emma Bennett, Jacob Curran-Sebastian, Rajenki Das, Martyn Fyles, Hugo Lewkowicz, Xiaoxi Pang, Bindu Vekaria, Luke Webb, Thomas House, Ian Hall

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Early assessments of the spreading rate of COVID-19 were subject to significant uncertainty, as expected with limited data and difficulties in case ascertainment, but more reliable inferences can now be made. Here, we estimate from European data that COVID-19 cases are expected to double initially every three days, until social distancing interventions slow this growth, and that the impact of such measures is typically only seen nine days - i.e. three doubling times - after their implementation. We argue that such temporal patterns are more critical than precise estimates of the basic reproduction number for initiating interventions. This observation has particular implications for the low- and middle-income countries currently in the early stages of their local epidemics.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2020


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