Given any epidemic model of an infectious disease, there are various ways of computing a basic reproduction number($R_0$) such as; the next-generation method, survival function, largest eigenvalue of the Jacobian matrix and so on.

My question is,

Do we get the same $R_0$ for the same model but using different methods of computing $R_0$?

If we don't(if $R_0$ is unique) what is the explanation? Are we allowed to use "this" different $R_0$ in writing a paper?

  • $\begingroup$ Generally, as with all statistical model fitting, you need to separate between the actual (unknown) value of R0 and the estimate of R0, based on model fitting from empirical data. If you consider this, different estimates of R0 are rather unproblematic (and expected). However, large deviations between estimates using different methods is worth digging into, since it could indicate problems with some of the data. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 12:37

1 Answer 1


It should be noted that many of the methods you talk about aren't necessarily for getting a number but rather a formula for $R_0$, all of which should be equivalent.

However, when those methods step into the realm of getting a number by fitting parameters, they may give different results as they handle certain aspects of the data differently.

You are certainly "allowed" to use any formulation of $R_0$ you want - just document what you did.


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