Can the Coronavirus be Stopped through Contact Tracing and Isolation?

Link of the day: Feasibility of controlling 2019-nCoV outbreaks by isolation of cases and contacts

While in London I co-worked on a paper about the Coronavirus. The study presents simulations of different outbreak scenarios and assess the feasibility of isolation and contact tracing to control the outbreak. Parameters modeled include among others the average number of people one individual infects, the delay from symptom onset to isolation, the proportion of contacts of one infected person that can be traced.

This graphic from the paper visualizes how the process is modeled. A more detailed explanation can be found in the paper.


According to the results from the simulated scenarios, contact tracing and case isolation alone are unlikely to control a new outbreak of 2019-nCov within three months apart from the best case scenarios. Control in this model is defined as no new infections after 12 weeks.

This figure summarizes the results. R0 is the average number of people an infected person would infect without any control measures. The left side shows the percentage of simulated scenarios under control for different R0 and different percentages of successfully traced contacts. The right shows how measures like contact tracing and isolation bring down the effective R0, i.e. the average number of people an infected person will infect with protective measures in place. An R0 smaller 1 implies that the disease will eventually die out at some point. A more detailed explanation can be found in the paper.

Direct link to a pre-print of the paper.

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