Latin America and the caribbean SARS-CoV-2 surveillance: Longitudinal trend analysis

Lori Post*, Ramael O. Ohiomoba, Ashley Maras, Sean J. Watts, Charles B. Moss, Robert Leo Murphy, Michael G. Ison, Chad J. Achenbach, Danielle Resnick, Lauren Nadya Singh, Janine White, Azraa S. Chaudhury, Michael J. Boctor, Sarah B. Welch, James Francis Oehmke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented stress on economies, food systems, and health care resources in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Existing surveillance provides a proxy of the COVID-19 caseload and mortalities; however, these measures make it difficult to identify the dynamics of the pandemic and places where outbreaks are likely to occur. Moreover, existing surveillance techniques have failed to measure the dynamics of the pandemic. Objective: This study aimed to provide additional surveillance metrics for COVID-19 transmission to track changes in the speed, acceleration, jerk, and persistence in the transmission of the pandemic more accurately than existing metrics. Methods: Through a longitudinal trend analysis, we extracted COVID-19 data over 45 days from public health registries. We used an empirical difference equation to monitor the daily number of cases in the LAC as a function of the prior number of cases, the level of testing, and weekly shift variables based on a dynamic panel model that was estimated using the generalized method of moments approach by implementing the Arellano-Bond estimator in R. COVID-19 transmission rates were tracked for the LAC between September 30 and October 6, 2020, and between October 7 and 13, 2020. Results: The LAC saw a reduction in the speed, acceleration, and jerk for the week of October 13, 2020, compared to the week of October 6, 2020, accompanied by reductions in new cases and the 7-day moving average. For the week of October 6, 2020, Belize reported the highest acceleration and jerk, at 1.7 and 1.8, respectively, which is particularly concerning, given its high mortality rate. The Bahamas also had a high acceleration at 1.5. In total, 11 countries had a positive acceleration during the week of October 6, 2020, whereas only 6 countries had a positive acceleration for the week of October 13, 2020. The TAC displayed an overall positive trend, with a speed of 10.40, acceleration of 0.27, and jerk of -0.31, all of which decreased in the subsequent week to 9.04, -0.81, and -0.03, respectively. Conclusions: Metrics such as new cases, cumulative cases, deaths, and 7-day moving averages provide a static view of the pandemic but fail to identify where and the speed at which SARS-CoV-2 infects new individuals, the rate of acceleration or deceleration of the pandemic, and weekly comparison of the rate of acceleration of the pandemic indicate impending explosive growth or control of the pandemic. Enhanced surveillance will inform policymakers and leaders in the LAC about COVID-19 outbreaks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere25728
JournalJMIR Public Health and Surveillance
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021


  • 7-day persistence
  • Acceleration
  • Arellano-Bond estimator
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 surveillance system
  • Dynamic panel data
  • Econometrics
  • Economic
  • Generalized method of moments
  • Global COVID-19 surveillance
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Longitudinal
  • Metric
  • Persistence
  • Policy
  • Public health surveillance
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Second wave
  • Surveillance metrics
  • Transmission deceleration
  • Transmission jerk
  • Transmission speed
  • Trend analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Informatics


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