The world is suffering from a pandemic called COVID-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. National governments have problems evaluating the reach of the epidemic, due to having limited resources and tests at their disposal. This problem is especially acute in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Hence, any simple, cheap and flexible means of evaluating the incidence and evolution of the epidemic in a given country with a reasonable level of accuracy is useful. In this paper, we propose a technique based on (anonymous) surveys in which participants report on the health status of their contacts. This indirect reporting technique, known in the literature as network scale-up method, preserves the privacy of the participants and their contacts, and collects information from a larger fraction of the population (as compared to individual surveys). This technique has been deployed in the CoronaSurveys project, which has been collecting reports for the COVID-19 pandemic for more than two months. Results obtained by CoronaSurveys show the power and flexibility of the approach, suggesting that it could be an inexpensive and powerful tool for LMICs.
Ojo, O., García-Agundez, A., Girault, B., Hernández, H., Cabana, E., García-García, A., Arabshahi, P., Baquero, C., Casari, P., Ferreira, E., Frey, D., Georgiou, C., Goessens, M., Ishchenko, A., Jiménez, E., Kebkal, O., Lillo, R., Menezes, R., Nicolaou, N., Ortega, A., Patras, P., Roberts, J., Stavrakis, E., Tanaka, Y. & Anta, A. 2020, 'CoronaSurveys: Using Surveys with Indirect Reporting to Estimate the Incidence and Evolution of Epidemics'. To be published in arXiv.org [Preprint]. Available at: https://www.research.ed.ac.uk/portal/en/publications/coronasurveys-using-surveys-with-indirect-reporting-to-estimate-the-incidence-and-evolution-of-epidemics(9ad7efe5-0a69-470e-8794-82bc5fba840a).html