Effective Reproductive Number estimation for initial stage of COVID-19 pandemic in Latin American Countries

Int J Infect Dis. 2020 Jun;95:316-318. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2020.04.069. Epub 2020 Apr 30.


Objectives: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has become pandemic and turn in a challenge for Latin America. Understanding the dynamics of the epidemic is essential for decision making, and to reduce the health, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic. The present study aimed to estimate the effective reproductive number (Rt) of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-Cov2) infection during the first 10 days of the outbreak in seven Latin American countries with the highest incidence of cases as of March 23, 2020. Furthermore, we chose to compare the seven countries with Spain and Italy given their history with the virus.

Methods: Incidence data retrieved from the COVID-19 data repository by Johns Hopkins University were analyzed. The Rt was calculated for the first 10 days of the epidemic in Brazil, Ecuador, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Mexico, and Peru. Rt estimations were compared with Spain and Italy values for the same interval.

Results: The median Rt for the first 10 days of the COVID-19 epidemic were 2.90 (2.67-3.14) for Spain and 2.83 (2.7-2.96) for Italy. Latin American Rt estimations were higher in Ecuador (3.95(3.7-4.21)), Panama (3.95(3.7-4.21)), and Brazil (3.95(3.7-4.21)). The smallest one was observed in Peru (2.36(2.11-2.63)). All Latin American countries had Rt greater than 2.

Conclusions: The initial stages of the COVID-19 epidemic in Latin America suggested a high Rt. Interventions such as domestic and international travel restrictions, educational institutions closure, social distancing, and intensified case surveillance should be adopted to prevent the collapse of the health systems.

MeSH terms

  • Basic Reproduction Number*
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Latin America / epidemiology
  • Pandemics / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / prevention & control
  • SARS-CoV-2