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The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemics in 2002-2003 showed how quickly a novel infectious disease can spread both within communities and internationally. We have reviewed the epidemiological and genetic analyses that have been published both during and since these epidemics, and show how quickly data were collected and analyses undertaken. Key factors that determine the speed and scale of transmission of an infectious disease were estimated using statistical and mathematical modelling approaches, and phylogenetic analyses provided insights into the origin and evolution of the SARS-associated coronavirus. The SARS literature continues to grow, and it is hoped that international collaboration in the analysis of epidemiological and contact-network databases will provide further insights into the spread of this newly emergent infectious disease.

Original publication




Journal article


The Lancet. Infectious diseases

Publication Date





672 - 683


Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College, London, UK. <>


Humans, SARS Virus, Communicable Diseases, Emerging, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Disease Outbreaks, Models, Theoretical, China, Disease Transmission, Infectious