COVID-19 lockdown induces disease-mitigating structural changes in mobility networks

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117 (52), 32883-32890

Abstract

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic many countries implemented containment measures toreduce disease transmission. Studies using digital data sources show that the mobility of individualswas effectively reduced in multiple countries. However, it remains unclear whether these reductionscaused deeper structural changes in mobility networks, and how such changes may affect dynamicprocesses on the network. Here we use movement data of mobile phone users to show that mobilityin Germany has not only been reduced considerably: Lockdown measures caused substantial and long-lasting structural changes in the mobility network. We find that long-distance travel wasreduced disproportionately strongly. The trimming of long-range network connectivity leads to amore local, clustered network and a moderation of the ‘small-world’ effect. We demonstrate thatthese structural changes have a considerable effect on epidemic spreading processes by ‘flattening’the epidemic curve and delaying the spread to geographically distant regions.

Mobility changes in Germany during the COVID-19 pandemic
Frank Schlosser
Frank Schlosser
PhD Student

I’m currently researching human mobility and its relation to epidemic spreading

Dr. Benjamin F. Maier
Dr. Benjamin F. Maier
Postdoc

My research interests include the spread of infectious diseases, complex systems, and network theory

Olivia Jack
Olivia Jack
Researcher, Visual Artist
David Hinrichs
David Hinrichs
Data Scientist

David is a data scientist at P4.

Adrian Zachariae
Adrian Zachariae
PhD Student

My research interests are dangerously widespread and include evolutionary dynamics, human mobility and honey bee social networks.

Prof. Dr. Dirk Brockmann
Prof. Dr. Dirk Brockmann
Professor

Head of Research on Complex Systems Group

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