Skip to main content
Dryad logo

The impact of long-term non-pharmaceutical interventions on COVID-19 epidemic dynamics and control: the value and limitations of early models

Citation

Harris, Mallory; Kain, Morgan; Childs, Marissa (2021), The impact of long-term non-pharmaceutical interventions on COVID-19 epidemic dynamics and control: the value and limitations of early models , Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.cvdncjt4t

Abstract

Mathematical models of epidemics are important tools for predicting epidemic dynamics and evaluating interventions. Yet, because early models are built on limited information, it is unclear how long they will accurately capture epidemic dynamics. Using a stochastic SEIR model of COVID-19 fitted to reported deaths, we estimated transmission parameters at different time points during the first wave of the epidemic (March–June, 2020) in Santa Clara County, California. Although our estimated basic reproduction number (R0) remained stable from early April to late June (with an overall median of 3.76), our estimated effective reproduction number (RE) varied from 0.18 to 1.02 in April before stabilizing at 0.64 on 27 May. Between 22 April and 27 May, our model accurately predicted dynamics through June; however, the model did not predict rising summer cases after shelter-in-place orders were relaxed in June, which, in early July, was reflected in cases but not yet in deaths. While models are critical for informing intervention policy early in an epidemic, their performance will be limited as epidemic dynamics evolve. This paper is one of the first to evaluate the accuracy of a nearly epidemiological compartment model over time to understand the value and limitations of models during unfolding epidemics.