The transmission of the contagious COVID-19 is known to be highly dependent on individual viral dynamics. Since the cycle threshold (Ct) is the only semi-quantitative viral measurement that could reflect infectivity, we utilized Ct values to forecast COVID-19 incidences. Our COVID-19 cohort (n=9531), retrieved from a single representative cross-sectional virology test center in Lebanon, revealed that low daily mean Ct values are followed by an increase in the number of national positive COVID-19 cases. A subset of the data was used to develop a deep neural network model, tune its hyperparameters, and optimize the weights for minimal mean square error of prediction. The final model's accuracy is reported by comparing its predictions with an unseen dataset. Our model was the first to capture the interaction of the previously reported Ct values with the upcoming number of COVID-19 cases and any temporal effects that arise from population dynamics. Our model was deployed as a publicly available and easy-to-use estimator to facilitate prospective validation. Our model has potential application in predicting COVID-19 incidences in other countries and in assessing post-vaccination policies. Aside from emphasizing patient responsibility in adopting early testing practices, this study proposed and validated viral load measurement as a rigid input that can enhance outcomes and precision of viral disease predicting models.
Published August 2021 , 12 pages