Determination of epidemic parameters from early phase fatality data: A case study of the 2009 A(H1N1) pandemic in Europe
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This paper demonstrates that the susceptible-infected-removed (SIR) model applied to the early phase of an epidemic can be used to determine epidemic parameters reliably. As a case study the SIR model is applied to the fatality data of the 2009 fall wave cycle of the A(H1N1) pandemic in 12 European countries. It is observed that the best estimates of the basic reproduction number R-0 and the mean duration of the infection period 1/eta lie on a curve in the scatterplots indicating the existence of a nearly-invariant quantity which corresponds to the duration of the epidemic. Spline interpolation applied to the early phase of the epidemic an approximately 10-week period together with a future control point in the stabilization region is sufficient to estimate model parameters. The SIR model is run over a wide range of parameters and estimates of R0 in the range 1.2-2.0 match the values in the literature. The duration of the infection period 1/eta is estimated to be in the range 2.0-7.0 days. Longer infection periods are tied to spatial characteristics of the spread of the epidemic.