Background: Many studies have modeled and predicted the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) in the U.S. using data that begins with the first reported cases. However, the shortage of testing services to detect infected persons makes this approach subject to error due to its underdetection of early cases in the U.S. Our new approach overcomes this limitation and provides data supporting the public policy decisions intended to combat the spread of COVID-19 epidemic.
Methods: We used Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data documenting the daily new and cumulative cases of confirmed COVID-19 in the U.S. from January 22 to April 6, 2020, and reconstructed the epidemic using a 5-parameter logistic growth model. We fitted our model to data from a 2-week window (i.e., from March 21 to April 4, approximately one incubation period) during which large-scale testing was being conducted. With parameters obtained from this modeling, we reconstructed and predicted the growth of the epidemic and evaluated the extent and potential effects of underdetection.
Results: The data fit the model satisfactorily. The estimated daily growth rate was 16.8% overall with 95% CI: [15.95, 17.76%], suggesting a doubling period of 4 days. Based on the modeling result, the tipping point at which new cases will begin to decline will be on April 7th, 2020, with a peak of 32,860 new cases on that day. By the end of the epidemic, at least 792,548 (95% CI: [789,162, 795,934]) will be infected in the U.S. Based on our model, a total of 12,029 cases were not detected between January 22 (when the first case was detected in the U.S.) and April 4.
Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate the utility of a 5-parameter logistic growth model with reliable data that comes from a specified period during which governmental interventions were appropriately implemented. Beyond informing public health decision-making, our model adds a tool for more faithfully capturing the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Keywords: COVID-19; Disease dynamics; Epidemics; Logistic growth model; Population-based model; Prediction; Reconstruction; Tipping point; USA; Under-detection.
© The Author(s) 2020.
Conflict of interest statement
Competing interestsThe authors declare no competing interests associated with this study.
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