The incubation period distribution of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): a systematic review and meta-analysis

Link to article at PubMed

Clin Infect Dis. 2021 Jun 12:ciab501. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciab501. Online ahead of print.


Incubation period is an important parameter to inform quarantine period and to study transmission dynamics of infectious diseases. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis on published estimates of the incubation period distribution of COVID-19, and showed that the pooled median of the point estimates of the mean, median and 95 th percentile for incubation period are 6.3 days (range: 1.8 to 11.9 days), 5.4 days (range: 2.0 to 17.9 days) and 13.1 days (range: 3.2 to 17.8 days) respectively. Estimates of the mean and 95 th percentile of the incubation period distribution were considerably shorter before the epidemic peak in China compared to after the peak, and variation was also noticed for different choices of methodological approach in estimation. Our findings implied that corrections may be needed before directly applying estimates of incubation period into control of or further studies on emerging infectious diseases.

PMID:34117868 | DOI:10.1093/cid/ciab501

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