Inferring COVID-19 spreading rates and potential change points for case number forecasts

Published in Science, 2020

Recommended citation: Dehning, J., Zierenberg, J., Spitzner, F. P., Wibral, M., Neto, J. P., Wilczek, M., & Priesemann, V. (2020). Inferring change points in the spread of COVID-19 reveals the effectiveness of interventions. Science, 15,eabb9789


As COVID-19 is rapidly spreading across the globe, short-term modeling forecasts provide time-critical information for decisions on containment and mitigation strategies. A major challenge for short-term forecasts is the assessment of key epidemiological parameters and how they change when first interventions show an effect. By combining an established epidemiological model with Bayesian inference, we analyze the time dependence of the effective growth rate of new infections. Focusing on COVID-19 spread in Germany, we detect change points in the effective growth rate that correlate well with the times of publicly announced interventions. Thereby, we can quantify the effect of interventions, and we can incorporate the corresponding change points into forecasts of future scenarios and case numbers. Our code is freely available and can be readily adapted to any country or region.

Download paper here