Preliminary prediction of the basic reproduction number of the Wuhan novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV

J Evid Based Med. 2020 Feb;13(1):3-7. doi: 10.1111/jebm.12376. Epub 2020 Feb 12.


Objectives: To estimate the basic reproduction number of the Wuhan novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Methods: Based on the susceptible-exposed-infected-removed (SEIR) compartment model and the assumption that the infectious cases with symptoms occurred before 26 January, 2020 are resulted from free propagation without intervention, we estimate the basic reproduction number of 2019-nCoV according to the reported confirmed cases and suspected cases, as well as the theoretical estimated number of infected cases by other research teams, together with some epidemiological determinants learned from the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Results: The basic reproduction number fall between 2.8 and 3.3 by using the real-time reports on the number of 2019-nCoV-infected cases from People's Daily in China and fall between 3.2 and 3.9 on the basis of the predicted number of infected cases from international colleagues.

Conclusions: The early transmission ability of 2019-nCoV is close to or slightly higher than SARS. It is a controllable disease with moderate to high transmissibility. Timely and effective control measures are needed to prevent the further transmissions.

Keywords: 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV); basic reproduction number; epidemiology.

MeSH terms

  • Basic Reproduction Number*
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • China / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections* / prevention & control
  • Coronavirus Infections* / transmission
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / transmission
  • SARS-CoV-2