Dataset Open Access

The scale and dynamics of COVID-19 epidemics across Europe

Dye, Christopher

The number of COVID-19 deaths reported from European countries has varied more than 100-fold. In terms of coronavirus transmission, the relatively low death rates in some countries could be due to low intrinsic (e.g. low population density) or imposed contact rates (e.g. non-pharmaceutical interventions) among individuals, or because fewer people were exposed or susceptible to infection (e.g. smaller populations). Here we develop a flexible empirical model (skew-logistic) to distinguish among these possibilities. We find that countries reporting fewer deaths did not generally have intrinsically lower rates of transmission and epidemic growth, and flatter epidemic curves. Rather, countries with fewer deaths locked down earlier, had shorter epidemics that peaked sooner, and smaller populations. Consequently, as lockdowns are eased we expect, and are starting to see, a resurgence of COVID-19 across Europe.

The data used for analysis are provided in the Excel files, in which cells contain formulae for carrying out basic computations. Graphics in the paper are also presented in the Excel files, which point to the source data in each file. Click "don't update" when opening Excel files. Although the SEIR and skew-logistic models cna be run from the Excel files provided, readers can also construct these models from the information given in the Supplementary Materials (included with the manuscript).

Funding provided by: Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford
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