Intensity of COVID-19

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How bad is the COVID-19?  Here is a number that may help putting things in perspective, and making it easier to answer the question. It is called the reproductive number.

A reproduction number (R0) is used by scientists to describe the intensity of an infectious disease like the COVID-19 pandemic that is plaguing us right now.  It is, in the words of  University of Michigan Health Lab, how many people one person with the coronavirus can infect.

For comparison, R0’s for the SARS  (< 1),  Flu (2-3), and measles (12 -18) illustrate the varying intensities of the respective infections.  When R0 is greater than (>) 1 the disease will spread, and when R0 less than one(<) 1, it will die out. Higher the R0, more infectious the disease.

Given the COVID-19 is still spreading, its actual R0 is yet to be determined.  So scientists are using an estimate somewhere between 1.5  to 3.5 for modeling and simulation purposes. But as more data become available through actual cases and testings, we will have a better grasp on its R0.

Do you find the reproductive number (R0) an useful indicator?


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