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Estimating asymptomatic, undetected and total cases for the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan: a mathematical modeling study
Abstract Background The COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan started in December 2019 and was under control by the end of March 2020 with a total of 50,006 confirmed cases by the implementation of a series of nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) including unprecedented lockdown of the city. This study analyzes the complete outbreak data from Wuhan, assesses the impact of these public health interventions, and estimates the asymptomatic, undetected and total cases for the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan. Methods By taking different stages of the outbreak into account, we developed a time-dependent compartmental model to describe the dynamics of disease transmission and case detection and reporting. Model coefficients were parameterized by using the reported cases and following key events and escalated control strategies. Then the model was used to calibrate the complete outbreak data by using the Monte Carlo Markov Chain (MCMC) method. Finally we used the model to estimate asymptomatic and undetected cases and approximate the overall antibody prevalence level. Results We found that the transmission rate between Jan 24 and Feb 1, 2020, was twice as large as that before the lockdown on Jan 23 and 67.6 % (95% CI [0.584,0.759]) of detectable infections occurred during this period. Based on the reported estimates that around 20% of infections were asymptomatic and their transmission ability was about 70% of symptomatic ones, we estimated that there were about 14,448 asymptomatic and undetected cases (95% CI [12,364,23,254]), which yields an estimate of a total of 64,454 infected cases (95% CI [62,370,73,260]), and the overall antibody prevalence level in the population of Wuhan was 0.745% (95% CI [0.693 % ,0.814 % ]) by March 31, 2020. Conclusions We conclude that the control of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan was achieved via the enforcement of a combination of multiple NPIs: the lockdown on Jan 23, the stay-at-home order on Feb 2, the massive isolation of all symptomatic individuals via newly constructed special shelter hospitals on Feb 6, and the large scale screening process on Feb 18. Our results indicate that the population in Wuhan is far away from establishing herd immunity and provide insights for other affected countries and regions in designing control strategies and planing vaccination programs.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
NSF-PAR ID:
10328859
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
BMC Infectious Diseases
Volume:
21
Issue:
1
ISSN:
1471-2334
Format(s):
Medium: X
National Science Foundation
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1. (Ed.)
Background: A key challenge in estimating epidemiological parameters for a pandemic such as the initial COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan is the discrepancy between the officially reported number of infections and the true number of infections. A common approach to tackling the challenge is to use the number of infections exported from the originating city to infer the true number. This approach can only provide a static estimate of the epidemiological parameters before city lockdown because there are almost no exported cases thereafter.Methods: We propose a Bayesian estimation method that dynamically estimates the epidemiological parameters by recovering true numbers of infections from day-to-day official numbers. To illustrate the use of this method, we provide a comprehensive retrospection on how the COVID-19 had progressed in Wuhan from January 19 to March 5, 2020. Particularly, we estimate that the outbreak sizes by January 23 and March 5 were 11,239 [95% CI 4,794–22,372] and 124,506 [95% CI 69,526–265,113], respectively.Results: The effective reproduction number attained its maximum on January 24 (3.42 [95% CI 3.34–3.50]) and became less than 1 from February 7 (0.76 [95% CI 0.65–0.92]). We also estimate the effects of two major government interventions on the spread of COVID-19 in Wuhan.Conclusions: This case study by our proposed method affirms the believed importance and effectiveness of imposing tight non-essential travel restrictions and affirm the importance and effectiveness of government interventions (e.g., transportation suspension and large scale hospitalization) for effective mitigation of COVID-19 community spread.
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4. (Ed.)
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5. (Ed.)
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