COVID-19 pandemic-related lockdown: response time is more important than its strictness

June, 2020


The rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 and its threat to health systems worldwide have led governments to take acute actions to enforce social distancing. Previous studies used complex epidemiological models to quantify the effect of lockdown policies on infection rates. However, these rely on prior assumptions or on official regulations. Here, we use country-specific reports of daily mobility from people cellular usage to model social distancing. Our data-driven model enabled the extraction of mobility characteristics which were crossed with observed mortality rates to show that: (1) the time at which social distancing was initiated is of utmost importance and explains 62% of the number of deaths, while the lockdown strictness or its duration are not as informative; (2) a delay of 7.49 days in initiating social distancing would double the number of deaths; and (3) the expected time from infection to fatality is 25.75 days and significantly varies among countries. 

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