I am a nonmedical scientist trying to make sense of medical terms that were involved in the following study: Transmission onset distribution of COVID-19. I am attaching a link to the paper for your reference: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1201971220306123

My question is: what is a layman's definition of what transmission onset is? Can I construed it as the infectiousness of the disease or transmissibility of the disease?

I bring your attention to the crucial Figure (attached here, Figure 3 of the paper)enter image description here

The figure presents the probability density function vs number of days after onset of symptoms. The caption reads: Estimated distribution of the transmission onset of COVID-19 relative to the onset of symptoms.

Can someone kindly explain this 'transmission onset' thing in plain language please?

1 Answer 1


The transmission onset of an individual is the time when the individual first contaminated someone else, as defined in the paper you mentioned, section Procedures, first paragraph, P_j definition:

enter image description here

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