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New COVID variants may be more transmissible but that doesn't mean the R0 – or basic reproduction number – has increased

By Freya Shearer, Research Fellow, Epidemic Decision Support, The University of Melbourne
Catherine Bennett, Chair in Epidemiology, Deakin University
Hassan Vally, Associate Professor, Epidemiology, Deakin University
James McCaw, Professor in Mathematical Biology, The University of Melbourne
Nick Golding, Honorary Research Fellow, Telethon Kids Institute, and Professor, Curtin School of Population Health, Curtin University
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During the pandemic we have all become familiar with a lot of epidemiological concepts.

One that was introduced to us early in 2020 is the “basic reproductive number”, or R0. This tells us about the intrinsic contagiousness of a virus, or its inherent capacity to be spread from one person to another in a particular population.

We also learned about the “effective reproductive number”, or Reff. This tells us about the rate at which a virus is actually spreading through that population.

With the emergence of BA.4/5, there has been some confusion around how these…The Conversation


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