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Linking key intervention timings to rapid declining effective reproduction number to quantify lessons against COVID-19


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is currently under a global pandemic trend. The efficiency of containment measures and epidemic tendency of typical countries should be assessed. In this study, the efficiency of prevention and control measures in China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, and Japan was assessed, and the COVID-19 epidemic tendency among these countries was compared. Results showed that the effective reproduction number(Re) in Wuhan, China increased almost exponentially, reaching a maximum of 3.98 before a lockdown and rapidly decreased to below 1 due to containment and mitigation strategies of the Chinese government. The Re in Italy declined at a slower pace than that in China after the implementation of prevention and control measures. The Re in Iran showed a certain decline after the establishment of a national epidemic control command, and an evident stationary phase occurred because the best window period for the prevention and control of the epidemic was missed. The epidemic in Japan and South Korea reoccurred several times with the Re fluctuating greatly. The epidemic has hardly rebounded in China due to the implementation of prevention and control strategies and the effective enforcement of policies. Other countries suffering from the epidemic could learn from the Chinese experience in containing COVID-19.


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The study was supported in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 81673275 and 91846302), the National S&T Major Project Foundation of China (Nos. 2018ZX10715002-004 and 2018ZX10713001-001), and the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD).

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Correspondence to Yankai Xia.

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Zhihang Peng, Wenyu Song, Zhongxing Ding, Quanquan Guan, Xu Yang, Qiaoqiao Xu, Xu Wang, and Yankai Xia declare that they have no actual or potential competing financial interests. This article does not include studies involving human or animal subjects.

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Peng, Z., Song, W., Ding, Z. et al. Linking key intervention timings to rapid declining effective reproduction number to quantify lessons against COVID-19. Front. Med. 14, 623–629 (2020).

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  • COVID-19
  • epidemic control comparison
  • Chinese experience