Infection fatality rate and infection attack rate of COVID-19 in South American countries

Salihu Sabiu Musa, Amna Tariq, Liu Yuan, Wei Haozhen, Daihai He

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic hit South America badly with multiple waves. Different COVID-19 variants have been storming across the region, leading to more severe infections and deaths even in places with high vaccination coverage. This study aims to assess the spatiotemporal variability of the COVID-19 pandemic and estimate the infection fatality rate (IFR), infection attack rate (IAR) and reproduction number (R) for twelve most affected South American countries. Methods: We fit a susceptible-exposed-infectious-recovered (SEIR)-based model with a time-varying transmission rate to the reported COVID-19 deaths for the twelve South American countries with the highest mortalities. Most of the epidemiological datasets analysed in this work are retrieved from the disease surveillance systems by the World Health Organization, Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center and Our World in Data. We investigate the COVID-19 mortalities in these countries, which could represent the situation for the overall South American region. We employ COVID-19 dynamic model with-and-without vaccination considering time-varying flexible transmission rate to estimate IFR, IAR and R of COVID-19 for the South American countries. Results: We simulate the model in each scenario under suitable parameter settings and yield biologically reasonable estimates for IFR (varies between 0.303% and 0.723%), IAR (varies between 0.03 and 0.784) and R (varies between 0.7 and 2.5) for the 12 South American countries. We observe that the severity, dynamical patterns of deaths and time-varying transmission rates among the countries are highly heterogeneous. Further analysis of the model with the effect of vaccination highlights that increasing the vaccination rate could help suppress the pandemic in South America. Conclusions: This study reveals possible reasons for the two waves of COVID-19 outbreaks in South America. We observed reductions in the transmission rate corresponding to each wave plausibly due to improvement in nonpharmaceutical interventions measures and human protective behavioral reaction to recent deaths. Thus, strategies coupling social distancing and vaccination could substantially suppress the mortality rate of COVID-19 in South America. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number40
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalInfectious Diseases of Poverty
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Epidemic model
  • Infection attack rate
  • Infection fatality rate
  • Pandemic
  • Reproduction number

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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