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Journal Article

Anticipating the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic


Chowdhury,  Sourangsu
Atmospheric Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Kaur, T., Sarkar, S., Chowdhury, S., Sinha, S. K., Jolly, M. K., & Dutta, P. S. (2020). Anticipating the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic. Frontiers in public health, 8: 569669. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2020.569669.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-5A4F-D
The COVID-19 outbreak was first declared an international public health, and it was later deemed a pandemic. In most countries, the COVID-19 incidence curve rises sharply over a short period of time, suggesting a transition from a disease-free (or low-burden disease) equilibrium state to a sustained infected (or high-burden disease) state. Such a transition is often known to exhibit characteristics of “critical slowing down.” Critical slowing down can be, in general, successfully detected using many statistical measures, such as variance, lag-1 autocorrelation, density ratio, and skewness. Here, we report an empirical test of this phenomena on the COVID-19 datasets of nine countries, including India, China, and the United States. For most of the datasets, increases in variance and autocorrelation predict the onset of a critical transition. Our analysis suggests two key features in predicting the COVID-19 incidence curve for a specific country: (a) the timing of strict social distancing and/or lockdown interventions implemented and (b) the fraction of a nation's population being affected by COVID-19 at that time. Furthermore, using satellite data of nitrogen dioxide as an indicator of lockdown efficacy, we found that countries where lockdown was implemented early and firmly have been successful in reducing COVID-19 spread. These results are essential for designing effective strategies to control the spread/resurgence of infectious pandemics.