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Infectious disease phylodynamics with occurrence data

By Leo A. Featherstone, Francesca Di Giallonardo, Edward C Holmes, Timothy G Vaughan, Sebastián Duchêne

Posted 08 Apr 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/596700

Point 1 Phylodynamic models use pathogen genome sequence data to infer epidemiological dynamics. With the increasing genomic surveillance of pathogens, especially amid the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, new practical questions about their use are emerging. Point 2 One such question focuses on the inclusion of un-sequenced case occurrence data alongside sequenced data to improve phylodynamic analyses. This approach can be particularly valuable if sequencing efforts vary over time. Point 3 Using simulations, we demonstrate that birth-death phylodynamic models can employ occurrence data to eliminate bias in estimates of the basic reproductive number due to misspecification of the sampling process. In contrast, the coalescent exponential model is robust to such sampling biases, but in the absence of a sampling model it cannot exploit occurrence data. Subsequent analysis of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in the northwest USA supports these results. Point 4 We conclude that occurrence data are a valuable source of information in combination with birth-death models. These data should be used to bolster phylodynamic analyses of infectious diseases and other rapidly spreading species in the future. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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