Nature Article Explores R as the Pandemic’s Misunderstood Metric


Professor Xihong Lin‘s new website was recently featured in an article published in Nature last week; “A guide to R — the pandemic’s misunderstood metric“, which sought to explore what the reproduction number can and can’t tell us about managing COVID-19.

The site, which was created with a team of students and postdocs, uses interactive maps to visualize COVID-19’s Effective Reproduction Number (Rt) in real time throughout the world, at various resolutions from country level all the way down to state/province and county levels. This can range from thousands to millions of inhabitants — but Dr. Lin, says that hyperlocal data come with big uncertainties. The researchers don’t calculate an Rt for a county unless there are ten cases, Dr. Lin says. And she stresses that policymakers should not use them in isolation, but only alongside other measures such as the total number of cases and whether it is increasing. “When making recommendations. it’s definitely important to look at the whole picture and not just rely on Rt,” she says. Used properly, the data could help public-health officials to identify hot spots of infection to prioritize resources such as testing, she says.

See full article in Nature here.