Evaluating Data-Driven Forecasting Methods for Predicting SARS-CoV2 Cases: Evidence From 173 Countries

Evaluating Data-Driven Forecasting Methods for Predicting SARS-CoV2 Cases: Evidence From 173 Countries

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Serving as the President of Pakistan Biological Safety Association I feel we are working hard to improve the biosafety and biosecurity in Pakistan. We are pioneers in introducing biorisk management in Pakistan and our work has been acclaimed nationally and internationally. We have successfully completed multiple projects and our success indicates our commitment towards our mission to improve biorisk management in Pakistan.

Dr. Aamer Ikram
Dr. Aamer Ikram, President PBSA/ Executive Director NIH Pakistan

A pre-print document is available that is titled “Evaluating Data-Driven Forecasting Methods for Predicting SARS-CoV2 Cases: Evidence From 173 Countries”. The authors of the paper includes Dr. Aamer Ikram (Executive Director, NIH), Javed Muhammad (Treasurer, Pakistan Biological Safety Association) and Furqan Ahmed (Lifetime Member PBSA; also 2016-2018 Programme Manager of Pakistan Biological Safety Association).

An abstract from the document is provided below:

The WHO announced the epidemic of SARS-CoV2 as a public health emergency of international concern on 30th January 2020. To date, it has spread to more than 200 countries, and has been declared as a global pandemic. For appropriate preparedness, containment, and mitigation response, the stakeholders and policymakers require prior guidance on the propagation of SARS-CoV2. This study aims to provide such guidance by forecasting the cumulative COVID-19 cases up to 4 weeks ahead for 173 countries, using four data-driven methodologies; autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA), exponential smoothing model (ETS), random walk forecasts (RWF) with and without drift. We also evaluate the accuracy of these forecasts using the Mean Absolute Percentage Error (MAPE). The results show that the ARIMA and ETS methods outperform the other two forecasting methods. Additionally, using these forecasts, we generated heat maps to provide a pictorial representation of the countries at risk of having an increase in cases in the coming 4 weeks for June. Due to limited data availability during the ongoing pandemic, less data-hungry forecasting models like ARIMA and ETS can help in anticipating the future burden of SARS-CoV2 on healthcare systems.

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We congratulate the endeavors of Dr. Aamer Ikram, Javed Muhammad and all members of PBSA for making Pakistan biosafe.