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About this course

“If history is our guide, we can assume that the battle between the intellect and will of the human species and the extraordinary adaptability of microbes will be never-ending.” (1)

Despite all the remarkable technological breakthroughs that we have made over the past few decades, the threat from infectious diseases has significantly accelerated. In this course, we will learn why this is the case by looking at the fundamental scientific principles underlying epidemics and the public health actions behind their prevention and control in the 21st century.

This is the second (spread of infectious diseases) of the four courses, covers these topics:

  • Basic Concepts in Infectious Disease Epidemiology
  • Epidemiologic Triangle: The Pathogen, The Host and The Environment
  • Evidence Synthesis
  • Infectious Disease Modelling

Week 1
Infectious Disease Epidemiology – A Newly Identified Coronavirus COVID-19

Through infectious disease epidemiology, a new coronavirus (COVID-19) was identified recently. The new coronavirus quickly sparked global concern due to its rapid spread and suspected super spreaders, who can be asymptomatic and with weak immune system. What is the incubation period (14 days)? What is the origin of the virus and how fast does it transmit? What is the severity of the virus? Many questions have yet to be solved. Join us and share your thoughts with leaners, global leaders and experts.

Week 2
Epidemiological Triangle ­- Why People Get Infected

The evolution of pathogens never stops, fortunately, the fatality rate of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) is lower than SARS’s. However, infections continue to surge with death toll (>1,000) exceeds SARS, and there were 7,000 patients remain in critical condition (The Washington Post, Feb 11, 2020). This week, we have supplementary reading on “Real-time nowcast and forecast on the extent of the COVID-19 outbreak, domestic and international spread”. We will introduce the concept of the epidemiological triangle applied to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will also Investigate the evolution of pathogens, how age affects disease transmission and severity, and specifically talk about influenza immunity.

Week 3
Infectious Disease Modeling – The New Coronavirus Spreads So Rapidly

On December 31, 2019, China reported a few cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, the pathogen was quickly identified as a new coronavirus (COVID-19) in January 2020. Despite the shut down of Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market on Jan 1, 2020, infections continue to surge and spread outside China. As of Feb 11, 2020, 43,013 infections have been reported globally with deaths toll 1,018 (SCMP, Feb 11, 2020). The spread is believed to continue because the disease has been transmitted locally and there may be super spreaders in the communities. In this case, what percentage of the population is expected to be infected eventually? How experts project the infection peak? This week, we have a suggested reading on “Nowcasting and forecasting the potential domestic and international spread of the 2019-nCoV outbreak originating in Wuhan, China: a modelling study.” Join our online course (Epidemics II) on March 19, 2020, and see how we investigate the dynamics of infectious diseases by means of infectious disease modelling.


Join the fight against epidemics now.

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(1) Fauci AS, Touchette NA, Folkers GK. Emerging Infectious Diseases: a 10-Year Perspective from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Emerg Infect Dis 2005 Apr; 11(4):519-25.

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