American University of Beirut

Dr. Samer Kharroubi models the spread of COVID-19 in Lebanon and investigates the effectiveness of lockdown measures a

​​With the start of the current COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Samer Kharroubi embarked on an endeavor to research the infection using various statistical methods, including Bayesian modelling. He has published two articles on modelling the spread of the pandemic and on assessing the effectiveness of the lockdown measures that have been implemented against it. 

In his first article, Dr. Kharroubi developed a Bayesian statistical model that can be used to predict and explain the spread of COVID-19 disease in Lebanon along time. This Bayesian model can also estimate whether contagion has a trend (growing or declining), when the peak of contagion is reached, and where exactly on the infection cycle each country stands, so that containment measures can be applied and/or relaxed. A model of this kind, while statistically expressing the current practices in the modelling on the global spread of COVID-19, produces findings that could be beneficial for policy decision-makers to better plan health policy interventions and take the appropriate actions to contain the spreading of the virus to the degree possible. Model findings are presented for the actual time series of Lebanon, but can be easily reproduced and extended to other countries and more time periods as more data becomes available.

Kharroubi, S. A. (2020). Modeling the spread of COVID-19 in Lebanon: A Bayesian perspective. Frontiers in Applied Mathematics and Statistics, 6, 40. doi:10.3389/fams.2020.00040

In his second article, Dr. Kharroubi assessed the potential role of containment measures to suppress the virus transmission, thereby slowing down the growth rate of cases and rapidly reducing case incidence in the absence of a COVID-19 vaccine. He built a sophisticated statistical model for COVID-19 disease to show that country lockdown has a critical and significant impact on the pandemic [4]. This is explored using real time incidence data in Lebanon. Dr. Kharroubi analyzed COVID-19 cases in Lebanon before and after lockdown measures have been implemented. The findings showed that the nationwide lockdown was effective in reducing cases and has been successful in, so far, containing the virus. This study would be the first in the Middle East to analyse/predict the spread of COVID-19 pre- and post-lockdown measures, and would therefore be of benefit to neighboring countries until similar studies are conducted in the region.

Kharroubi, S.*, & Saleh, F. (2020). Are lockdown measures effective against COVID-19? Frontiers in Public Health, 8, 549692. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2020.549692

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