Demystifying the Math of the Coronavirus


Elon Kohlberg and Abraham Neyman. 3/2021. “Demystifying the Math of the Coronavirus,” no. 741. Copy at
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We provide an elementary mathematical description of the spread of the coronavirus. We explain two fundamental relationships: How the rate of growth in new infections is determined by the “effective reproductive number”; and how the effective reproductive number is affected by social distancing. By making a key approximation, we are able to formulate these relationships very simply and thereby avoid complicated mathematics. The same approximation leads to an elementary method for estimating the effective reproductive number.

Last updated on 07/10/2022