Towards the global equilibrium of COVID-19: Statistical analysis of country-level data

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Abstract

In our study, we explore the COVID-19 dynamics to test whether the virus has reached its equilibrium point and to identify the main factors explaining the current R and case fatality rate (CFR) variability across countries. We present a retrospective study of publicly available country-level data from 50 countries having the highest number of confirmed COVID–19 cases at the end of September 2021. The mean values of country-level moving averages of R and CFR went down respectively from 1.118 and 6.3% on June 30, 2020 to 1.083 and 3.6% on September 30, 2020 and to 1.015 and 1.8% by September 30, 2021. In parallel, the 10%–90% inter-percentile range of R and CFR moving averages decreased, respectively, from 0.288 and 13.3% on June 30, 2020, to 0.151 and 7.7% on September 30, 2020, and to 0.107 and 3.3% by September 30, 2021. The slow decrease in the country-level moving averages of R, approaching the level of 1.0 and accompanied by repeated outbreaks (“waves”) in various countries, may indicate that COVID-19 has reached its point of stable endemic equilibrium. A regression analysis implies that only a prohibitively high level of herd immunity (about 63%) may stop the endemic by reaching a stable disease-free equilibrium. It also appears that fully vaccinating about 70% of a country's population should be sufficient for bringing the CFR close to the level of the seasonal flu (about 0.1%). Thus, while the currently available vaccines prove to be effective in reducing the mortality from the existing COVID-19 variants, they are unlikely to stop the spread of the virus in the foreseeable future. It is noteworthy that government measures restricting people's behavior (such as lockdowns) were not found to have statistically significant effects in the analyzed data.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)e592
Number of pages1
JournalHealth Science Reports
Volume5
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 22 Apr 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • case fatality rate
  • endemic stability
  • herd immunity
  • reproduction number

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine

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