In-host Mathematical Modelling of COVID-19 in Humans

Annu Rev Control. 2020:50:448-456. doi: 10.1016/j.arcontrol.2020.09.006. Epub 2020 Sep 30.


COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the impact of emergent pathogens as a major threat to human health. The development of quantitative approaches to advance comprehension of the current outbreak is urgently needed to tackle this severe disease. Considering different starting times of infection, mathematical models are proposed to represent SARS-CoV-2 dynamics in infected patients. Based on the target cell limited model, the within-host reproductive number for SARS-CoV-2 is consistent with the broad values of human influenza infection. The best model to fit the data was including immune cell response, which suggests a slow immune response peaking between 5 to 10 days post-onset of symptoms. The model with the eclipse phase, time in a latent phase before becoming productively infected cells, was not supported. Interestingly, model simulations predict that SARS-CoV-2 may replicate very slowly in the first days after infection, and viral load could be below detection levels during the first 4 days post infection. A quantitative comprehension of SARS-CoV-2 dynamics and the estimation of standard parameters of viral infections is the key contribution of this pioneering work. These models can serve for future evaluation of control theoretical approaches to tailor new drugs against COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; Immune responses; Mathematical Modelling; SARS-CoV-2; Viral Kinetics; Within-Host.