Spatiotemporal reproduction number with Bayesian model selection for evaluation of emerging infectious disease transmissibility: an application to COVID-19 national surveillance data.
Rotejanaprasert C., Lawson AB., Maude RJ.
BACKGROUND: To control emerging diseases, governments often have to make decisions based on limited evidence. The effective or temporal reproductive number is used to estimate the expected number of new cases caused by an infectious person in a partially susceptible population. While the temporal dynamic is captured in the temporal reproduction number, the dominant approach is currently based on modeling that implicitly treats people within a population as geographically well mixed. METHODS: In this study we aimed to develop a generic and robust methodology for estimating spatiotemporal dynamic measures that can be instantaneously computed for each location and time within a Bayesian model selection and averaging framework. A simulation study was conducted to demonstrate robustness of the method. A case study was provided of a real-world application to COVID-19 national surveillance data in Thailand. RESULTS: Overall, the proposed method allowed for estimation of different scenarios of reproduction numbers in the simulation study. The model selection chose the true serial interval when included in our study whereas model averaging yielded the weighted outcome which could be less accurate than model selection. In the case study of COVID-19 in Thailand, the best model based on model selection and averaging criteria had a similar trend to real data and was consistent with previously published findings in the country. CONCLUSIONS: The method yielded robust estimation in several simulated scenarios of force of transmission with computing flexibility and practical benefits. Thus, this development can be suitable and practically useful for surveillance applications especially for newly emerging diseases. As new outbreak waves continue to develop and the risk changes on both local and global scales, our work can facilitate policymaking for timely disease control.