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New method accurately reflects hotspots in epidemics

A new method to monitor epidemics like COVID-19 gives an accurate real-time estimate of the growth rate of an epidemic by carefully evaluating the relationship between the amount of viruses in infected people’s bodies, called the viral load, and how fast the number of cases is increasing or decreasing.

“This new method, which effectively links what we know about how the virus grows within the body to the dynamics of how the virus spreads across a population, provides a brand new metric that public health officials, policy makers, and epidemiologists will be able to use to get up-to-date real-time information on the epidemic,” said Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a core member of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics.