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The Reproductive Number of COVID-19 Is Higher Compared to SARS Coronavirus

Published time: 21 March 2020

Authors: Ying Liu, Albert A Gayle, Annelies Wilder-Smith, Joacim Rocklöv

Keywords: Coronavirus, Wuhan, China, SARS, Public health emergency of international concern, COVID-19, Epidemic potential, R0


In Wuhan, China, a novel and alarmingly contagious primary atypical (viral) pneumonia broke out in December 2019. It has since been identified as a zoonotic coronavirus, similar to SARS coronavirus and MERS coronavirus and named COVID-19. As of 8 February 2020, 33 738 confirmed cases and 811 deaths have been reported in China. Here we review the basic reproduction number (R0) of the COVID-19 virus. R0 is an indication of the transmissibility of a virus, representing the average number of new infections generated by an infectious person in a totally naïve population. For R0 > 1, the number infected is likely to increase, and for R0 < 1, the transmission is likely to die out. The basic reproduction number is a central concept in infectious disease epidemiology, indicating the risk of an infectious agent with respect to epidemic spread.

The reproductive number of COVID-19 is higher compared to SARS coronavirus



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