Biostatistics notebook

Epidemic reproduction numbers and herd immunity

B V Girdler-Brown, J Murray


In this educational article, we explore the meanings and the applications of the reproductive numbers, namely the basic reproductive number R0 , and the effective reproductive number R. We also give examples of how these numbers may be affected by the values of β, κ and D, and we go on to explore the relationship of the R0 value to the concept of herd immunity. Finally, we discuss how these concepts may contribute to the control of infectious disease outbreaks

Authors' affiliations

B V Girdler-Brown, School of Health Systems and Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

J Murray, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Cite this article

Southern African Journal of Public Health (incorporating Strengthening Health Systems) 2020;4(2):59-64. DOI:10.7196/SHS.2020.v4i2.121

Article History

Date submitted: 2020-08-14
Date published: 2020-08-14

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