ABC on COVID-19

The paper “The effect of travel restrictions on the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak”, published in Science on 06 March by Matteo Chinazzi and co-authors, considers the impact of travel restriction in Wuhan on the propagation of the virus. (Terrible graph by the way since the overall volume of traffic dropped considerably after the ban.)

“The travel quarantine of Wuhan delayed the overall epidemic progression by only 3 to 5 days in Mainland China, but has a more marked effect at the international scale, where case importations were reduced by nearly 80% until mid February.”

They use a SLIR (susceptible-latent-infectious-removed) pattern of transmission, along with a travel flow network based on 2019 air and ground travel statistics, resorting to ABC for approximating the posterior distribution of the basic reproductive number. It is however unclear to me that the model is particularly accurate at the levels of the transmission pattern (which now seems to occur much earlier than when the symptoms appear) and of the detection rates (which vary greatly from one place to another).

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