COVID-19 is quickly spreading around the world and carries along with it a significant threat to public health. This study sought to apply meta-analysis to more accurately estimate the basic reproduction number (R0) because prior estimates of R0 have a broad range from 1.95 to 6.47 in the existing literature. Utilizing meta-analysis techniques, we can determine a more robust estimation of R0, which is substantially larger than that provided by the World Health Organization (WHO). A susceptible-Infectious-removed (SIR) model for the new infection cases based on R0 from meta analysis is proposed to estimate the effective reproduction number Rt. The curves of estimated Rt values over time can illustrate that the isolation measures enforced in China and South Korea were substantially more effective in controlling COVID-19 compared to the measures enacted early in both Italy and the United States. Finally, we present the daily standardized infection cases per million population over time across countries, which is a good index to indicate the effectiveness of isolation measures on the prevention of COVID-19. This standardized infection case determines whether the current infection severity status is out of range of the national health capacity to care for patients.
We develop a health informatics toolbox that enables timely analysis and evaluation of the timecourse dynamics of a range of infectious disease epidemics. As a case study, we examine the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic using the publicly available data from the China CDC. This toolbox is built upon a hierarchical epidemiological model in which two observed time series of daily proportions of infected and removed cases are generated from the underlying infection dynamics governed by a Markov Susceptible-Infectious-Removed (SIR) infectious disease process. We extend the SIR model to incorporate various types of time-varying quarantine protocols, including government-level ‘macro’ isolation policies and community-level ‘micro’ social distancing (e.g. self-isolation and self-quarantine) measures. We develop a calibration procedure for underreported infected cases. This toolbox provides forecasts, in both online and offline forms, as well as simulating the overall dynamics of the epidemic. An R software package is made available for the public, and examples on the use of this software are illustrated. Some possible extensions of our novel epidemiological models are discussed.