BACKGROUND: The major medical and social challenge of the 21st century is COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 . Critical issues include the rate at which the coronavirus spreads and the effect of quarantine measures and population vaccination on this rate . Knowledge of the laws of the spread of COVID-19 will enable assessment of the effectiveness and reasonableness of the quarantine measures used, as well as determination of the necessary level of vaccination needed to overcome this crisis .
OBJECTIVE: This study aims to establish the laws of the spread of COVID-19 and to use them to develop a mathematical model to predict changes in the number of active cases over time, possible human losses, and the rate of recovery of patients, to make informed decisions about the number of necessary beds in hospitals, the introduction and type of quarantine measures, and the required threshold of vaccination of the population .
METHODS: This study analyzed the onset of COVID-19 spread in countries such as China, Italy, Spain, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, and Germany based on publicly available statistical data . The change in the number of COVID-19 cases, deaths, and recovered persons over time was examined, considering the possible introduction of quarantine measures and isolation of infected people in these countries . Based on the data, the virus transmissibility and the average duration of the disease at different stages were evaluated, and a model based on the principle of recursion was developed . Its key features are the separation of active (nonisolated) infected persons into a distinct category and the prediction of their number based on the average duration of the disease in the inactive phase and the concentration of these persons in the population in the preceding days .
RESULTS: Specific values for SARS-CoV-2 transmissibility and COVID-19 duration were estimated for different countries . In China, the viral transmissibility was 3.12 before quarantine measures were implemented and 0.36 after these measures were lifted . For the other countries, the viral transmissibility was 2.28-2.76 initially, and it then decreased to 0.87-1.29 as a result of quarantine measures . Therefore, it can be expected that the spread of SARS-CoV-2 will be suppressed if 56% -64% of the total population becomes vaccinated or survives COVID-19 .
CONCLUSIONS: The quarantine measures adopted in most countries are too weak compared to those previously used in China . Therefore, it is not expected that the spread of COVID-19 will stop and the disease will cease to exist naturally or owing to quarantine measures . Active vaccination of the population is needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 . Furthermore, the required specific percentage of vaccinated individuals depends on the magnitude of viral transmissibility, which can be evaluated using the proposed model and statistical data for the country of interest.