A University of Massachusetts Amherst biostatistician who directs the UMass-based Flu Forecasting Center of Excellence was invited by the White House Coronavirus Task Force to participate Wednesday morning in a coronavirus modeling webinar.

The four-hour, virtual gathering will include 20 of the world’s leading infectious disease and pandemic forecasting modelers, from researchers at Harvard, Johns Hopkins and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S. to those based at institutions in England, Hong Kong, South Africa and the Netherlands.

According to the White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Dr. Charles Vitek, “This webinar is designed to highlight for the Task Force what modeling can tell us regarding the potential effects of mitigation measures on the coronavirus outbreak. The unprecedented speed and impact of the nCoV-19 epidemic require the best-informed public health decision-making we can produce.”

Reich is co-author of a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine that calculates that the median incubation period for COVID-19 is just over five days and that 97.5 percent of people who develop symptoms will do so within 11.5 days of infection. The incubation period refers to the time between exposure to the virus and the appearance of the first symptoms.

The study’s lead author is UMass Amherst biostatistics doctoral alumnus Stephen Lauer, a former member of the Reich Lab and current postdoctoral researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The researchers examined 181 confirmed cases with identifiable exposure and symptom onset windows to estimate the incubation period of COVID-19. They conclude that “the current period of active monitoring recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [14 days] is well supported by the evidence.”

Excerpts: Science Daily.


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