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Algorithmic Method Identifies Epidemic Waves of COVID-19

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The number of days since the emergence of the first cases in China on Dec. 31, 2019, until the cumulative number of deaths in each country surpassed 10. Countries with darker colors passed the threshold earlier than lighter-colored countries.

In the U.S., three waves of cases and deaths are visually perceived, with the algorithm integrating the first two waveforms into a single wave. There is a notable disparity between the numbers of cases and deaths.

Credit: John Harvey et al

U.K. and Polish scientists have developed a technique to detect epidemic waves of COVID-19, first by clarifying the multiple ways researchers apply the phrase "epidemic wave."

The method splits epidemic time series of confirmed cases and deaths into non-overlapping "observed waves," enabling cross-validation to factor in the impact of shifting case determination, and to enhance case wave identification.

The algorithm was applied to every country for which COVID-19 data was available, and revealed a stronger association of waves with longer response time to stringency and higher gross national income.

Transmission and testing are the key drivers of waves in case incidence time series, and escalating transmission can trigger a wave, more testing, or both, if the testing regime shifts during a transmission wave.

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Abstracts Copyright © 2022 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


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