Forecasting the long-term trend of COVID-19 epidemic using a dynamic model

Jichao Sun, Xi Chen, Ziheng Zhang, Shengzhang Lai, Shuojia Wang, Wenjing Huan, Ruihui Zhao, Mat Tat Alexander Ng, Yefeng Zheng

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Received date: 22nd May 2020

Background The current outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has recently been declared as a pandemic and spread over 200 countries and territories. Forecasting the long-term trend of the COVID-19 epidemic can help health authorities determine the transmission characteristics of the virus and take appropriate prevention and control strategies beforehand. Previous studies that solely applied traditional epidemic models or machine learning models were subject to underfitting or overfitting problems. Methods We propose a new model named Dynamic-Susceptible-Exposed-Infective-Quarantined (D-SEIQ), by making appropriate modifications of the Susceptible-Exposed-Infective-Recovered (SEIR) model and integrating machine learning based parameter optimization under epidemiological rational constraints. We used the model to predict the long-term reported cumulative numbers of COVID-19 cases in China from January 27, 2020. Results We evaluated our model on officially reported confirmed cases from three different regions in China, and the results proved the effectiveness of our model in terms of simulating and predicting the trend of the COVID-19 outbreak. In China-Excluding-Hubei area within 7 days after the first public report, our model successfully and accurately predicted the long trend up to 40 days and the exact date of the outbreak peak. The predicted cumulative number (12,506) by March 10, 2020, was only 3·8% different from the actual number (13,005). The parameters obtained by our model proved the effectiveness of prevention and intervention strategies on epidemic control in China. The prediction results for five other countries suggested the external validity of our model. Conclusions The integrated approach of epidemic and machine learning models could accurately forecast the long-term trend of the COVID-19 outbreak. The model parameters also provided insights into the analysis of COVID-19 transmission and the effectiveness of interventions in China.

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This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on a preprint server, which is currently undergoing peer review at Scientific Reports. The findings have yet to be thoroughly evaluated, nor has a decision on ultimate publication been made. Therefore, the results reported should not be considered conclusive, and these findings should not be used to inform clinical practice, or public health policy, or be promoted as verified information.

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