COVID-19 pandemic and Farr's law: A global comparison and prediction of outbreak acceleration and deceleration rates

Kevin Pacheco-Barrios, Alejandra Cardenas-Rojas, Stefano Giannoni-Luza, Felipe Fregni*

*Autor correspondiente de este trabajo

Producción científica: Contribución a una revistaArtículorevisión exhaustiva

17 Citas (Scopus)


The COVID-19 outbreak has forced most of the global population to lock-down and has put in check the health services all over the world. Current predictive models are complex, region-dependent, and might not be generalized to other countries. However, a 150-year old epidemics law promulgated by William Farr might be useful as a simple arithmetical model (percent increase [R1] and acceleration [R2] of new cases and deaths) to provide a first sight of the epidemic behavior and to detect regions with high predicted dynamics. Thus, this study tested Farr's Law assumptions by modeling COVID-19 data of new cases and deaths. COVID-19 data until April 10, 2020, was extracted from available countries, including income, urban index, and population characteristics. Farr's law first (R1) and second ratio (R2) were calculated. We constructed epidemic curves and predictive models for the available countries and performed ecological correlation analysis between R1 and R2 with demographic data. We extracted data from 210 countries, and it was possible to estimate the ratios of 170 of them. Around 42.94% of the countries were in an initial acceleration phase, while 23.5% already crossed the peak. We predicted a reduction close to zero with wide confidence intervals for 56 countries until June 10 (high-income countries from Asia and Oceania, with strict political actions). There was a significant association between high R1 of deaths and high urban index. Farr's law seems to be a useful model to give an overview of COVID-19 pandemic dynamics. The countries with high dynamics are from Africa and Latin America. Thus, this is a call to urgently prioritize actions in those countries to intensify surveillance, to re-allocate resources, and to build healthcare capacities based on multi-nation collaboration to limit onward transmission and to reduce the future impact on these regions in an eventual second wave.

Idioma originalInglés
Número de artículoe0239175
PublicaciónPLoS ONE
N.º9 September
EstadoPublicada - set. 2020


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