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Son-Il Pak 1 Article
Interpretation of the Basic and Effective Reproduction Number
Jun-Sik Lim, Sung-Il Cho, Sukhyun Ryu, Son-Il Pak
J Prev Med Public Health. 2020;53(6):405-408.   Published online October 20, 2020
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AbstractAbstract PDF
In epidemiology, the basic reproduction number (R0) is a term that describes the expected number of infections generated by 1 case in a susceptible population. At the beginning of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, R0 was frequently referenced by the public health community and the wider public. However, this metric is often misused or misinterpreted. Moreover, the complexity of the process of estimating R0 has caused difficulties for a substantial number of researchers. In this article, in order to increase the accessibility of this concept, we address several misconceptions related to the threshold characteristics of R0 and the effective reproduction number (Rt). Moreover, the appropriate interpretation of the metrics is discussed. R0 should be considered as a population-averaged value that pools the contact structure according to a stochastic transmission process. Furthermore, it is necessary to understand the unavoidable time lag for Rt due to the incubation period of the disease.


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JPMPH : Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health