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Covid-19: scientists present solution to help in the early detection of pandemic peaks

25 january
Paulo Rocha
Paulo Rocha
© UC | Cristina Pinto

An international study published in "Scientific Reports", a journal of the Nature group, showed that a new format for analysing mathematical models would help in the early detection and prediction of of cancer and pandemics.

Led by Paulo Rocha, from the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Coimbra (FCTUC), and Lode Vandamme, from the University of Eindhoven (Netherlands), the study provides the scientific community that works with this type of mathematical models with a new reading format, more precisely, on a logarithmic and linear scale called “log-lin”.

“We explored the mathematical model most frequently used by the scientific community, a model proposed by Verhulst, and found that if we interpret the data in this way (“ log-lin ”) and not in traditional formats, we can obtain information that allows the early detection not only of pandemic peaks, but also of the development of several types of cancer, although in very different time scales”, explains Paulo Rocha.

The FCTUC scientist states that "this scientific article suggests that the scientific community that works with this type of models should start using this analysis format". In view of the pandemic situation we are experiencing, this study may allow “to detect more accurately when pandemic peaks will appear”, he stresses.

According to the researcher, “Cancer and pandemics are two of the main causes of death worldwide and currently represent a severe global concern. For both scenarios, early detection and prediction are critical. Our work shows that, in pandemics and cancers, similar problems can be solved and signalled in due time, using similar mathematical and physical models”. He further adds that these models “can, in due course, signal the appearance of epidemiological peaks - currently crucial for the prediction of the second and third peaks of COVID-19 -, in addition to summarizing vital data for government entities and citizens”.

Another important fact of the study is that the analysis model proposed by this group of scientists reveals that the “Brownian motion explains the rules of behaviour in a pandemic and emphasizes the importance of confinement, social distance, masks, face shields and air conditioning” .

The full paper - “Similarities between pandemics and cancer in growth and risk model”, is available at

News article in Portuguese: Cristina Pinto