Real-Time Estimation of Rt for Supporting Public-Health Policies Against COVID-19

Sebastián Contreras, H. Andrés Villavicencio, David Medina-Ortiz, Claudia P. Saavedra, Álvaro Olivera-Nappa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In the absence of a consensus protocol to slow down the spread of SARS-CoV-2, policymakers need real-time indicators to support decisions in public health matters. The Effective Reproduction Number (Rt) represents the number of secondary infections generated per each case and can be dramatically modified by applying effective interventions. However, current methodologies to calculate Rt from data remain somewhat cumbersome, thus raising a barrier between its timely calculation and application by policymakers. In this work, we provide a simple mathematical formulation for obtaining the effective reproduction number in real-time using only and directly daily official case reports, obtained by modifying the equations describing the viral spread. We numerically explore the accuracy and limitations of the proposed methodology, which was demonstrated to provide accurate, timely, and intuitive results. We illustrate the use of our methodology to study the evolution of the pandemic in different iconic countries, and to assess the efficacy and promptness of different public health interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number556689
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2020


  • COVID-19
  • effective reproduction number R
  • epidemiologic modeling
  • public-health policies
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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