OBJECTIVES: Estimates of the basic reproduction number (R0) of COVID-19 MESHD
vary across countries. This paper aims to characterise the spatial variability in R0 across the first six months of the global COVID-19 MESHD
outbreak, and to explore social factors that impact R0 estimates at national and regional level. METHODS: We searched PubMed, LitCOVID and the WHO COVID-19 MESHD
database from January to June 2020. Peer-reviewed English-language papers were included that provided R0 estimates. For each study, the value of the estimate, country under study and publication month were extracted. The median R0 value was calculated per country, and the median and variance were calculated per region. For each country with an R0 estimate, the Human Development Index ( HDI MESHD
), Sustainable Mobility Index (SMI), median age, population density and development status were obtained from external sources. RESULTS: A total of 81 studies were included in the analysis. These studies provided at least one estimate of R0, along with sufficient methodology to explain how the value was calculated. Values of R0 ranged between 0.48 and 14.8, and between 0.48 and 6.7 when excluding outliers. CONCLUSIONS: This systematic review provides a comprehensive overview of the estimates of the basic reproduction number of COVID-19 MESHD
globally and highlights the spatial heterogeneity in R0. Higher values were recorded in more developed countries, and countries with an older population or more sustainable mobility. Countries with higher population density had lower R0 estimates. For most regions, variability in R0 spiked initially before reducing and stabilising as more estimates became available.