COVID‑19 mitigation by digital contact tracing and contact prevention (app‑based social exposure warnings)
Soldano, Germán J.
Fraire, Juan A.
Finochietto, Jorge M.
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A plethora of measures are being combined in the attempt to reduce SARS-CoV-2 spread. Due to its sustainability, contact tracing is one of the most frequently applied interventions worldwide, albeit with mixed results. We evaluate the performance of digital contact tracing for different infection detection rates and response time delays. We also introduce and analyze a novel strategy we call contact prevention, which emits high exposure warnings to smartphone users according to Bluetooth-based contact counting. We model the effect of both strategies on transmission dynamics in SERIA, an agent-based simulation platform that implements population-dependent statistical distributions. Results show that contact prevention remains effective in scenarios with high diagnostic/response time delays and low infection detection rates, which greatly impair the effect of traditional contact tracing strategies. Contact prevention could play a significant role in pandemic mitigation, especially in developing countries where diagnostic and tracing capabilities are inadequate. Contact prevention could thus sustainably reduce the propagation of respiratory viruses while relying on available technology, respecting data privacy, and most importantly, promoting community-based awareness and social responsibility. Depending on infection detection and app adoption rates, applying a combination of digital contact tracing and contact prevention could reduce pandemic-related mortality by 20–56%.
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