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The phasing out of protective measures by governments and public health agencies, despite continued seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic, leaves individuals who are concerned for their health with two basic options over which they have control: 1) minimize risk of infection by being vaccinated and by wearing a face mask when appropriate, and 2) minimize risk of transmission upon infection by self-isolating. For the latter to be effective, it is essential to have an accurate sense of the probability of infectivity as a function of time following the onset of symptoms. Epidemiological considerations suggest that the period of infectivity follows a lognormal distribution. This proposition is tested empirically by construction of the lognormal probability density function and cumulative distribution function based on quantiles of infectivity reported by several independent investigations. A comprehensive examination of a prototypical ideal clinical study, based on general statistical principles (the Principle of Maximum Entropy and the Central Limit Theorem) reveals that the probability of infectivity is a lognormal random variable. Subsequent evolution of new variants may change the parameters of the distribution, which can be updated by the methods in this paper, but the form of the probability function is expected to remain lognormal as this is the most probable distribution consistent with mathematical requirements and available information.


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Mark P Silverman, Probability Distribution of SARS-Cov-2 (COVID) Infectivity Following Onset of Symptoms: Analysis from First Principles, Open Journal of Statistics 13 (2023) 233-263

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Open Journal of Statistics