Early epidemiological indicators, outcomes, and interventions of COVID-19 pandemic: a systematic review

Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19), a pandemic that brought the whole world to a standstill, has led to financial and health care burden. We aimed to evaluate epidemiological characteristics, needs of resources, outcomes, and global burden of the disease.

Systematic review was performed searching PubMed from December 1, 2019, to March 25, 2020, for full-text observational studies that described epidemiological characteristics, following MOOSE protocol. Global data were collected from the JHU-Corona Virus Resource Center, WHO-COVID-2019 situation reports, KFF.org, and Worldometers.info until March 31, 2020. The prevalence percentages were calculated. The global data were plotted in excel to calculate case fatality rate (CFR), predicted CFR, COVID-19 specific mortality rate, and doubling time for cases and deaths. CFR was predicted using Pearson correlation, regression models, and coefficient of determination.

From 21 studies of 2747 patients, 8.4% of patients died, 20.4% recovered, 15.4% were admitted to ICU and 14.9% required ventilation. COVID-19 was more prevalent in patients with hypertension (19.3%), smoking (11.3%), diabetes mellitus (10%), and cardiovascular diseases (7.4%). Common complications were pneumonia (82%), cardiac complications (26.4%), acute respiratory distress syndrome (15.7%), secondary infection (11.2%), and septic shock (4.3%). Though CFR and COVID-19 specific death rates are dynamic, they were consistently high for Italy, Spain, and Iran. Polynomial growth models were best fit for all countries for predicting CFR. Though many interventions have been implemented, stern measures like nationwide lockdown and school closure occurred after very high infection rates (>10cases per 100 000population) prevailed. Given the trend of government measures and decline of new cases in China and South Korea, most countries will reach the peak between April 1-20, if interventions are followed.

A collective approach undertaken by a responsible government, wise strategy implementation and a receptive population may help contain the spread of COVID-19 outbreak. Close monitoring of predictive models of such indicators in the highly affected countries would help to evaluate the potential fatality if the second wave of pandemic occurs. The future studies should be focused on identifying accurate indicators to mitigate the effect of underestimation or overestimation of COVID-19 burden.