Researchers of the University of Eastern Finland analysed the effectiveness of restricting people’s mobility to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The research team used anonymised position data from Google services users.
The data was analysed for daily changes of mobility and got arranged in different mobility categories including if people stayed at home. The study covers the pre-vaccination phase from 15 February – 31 December 2020, and used data from 125 countries plus 52 United States regions or states.
The analysis performed a correlation between the mobility indicators and the effective reproduction number of COVID-19. It identified three groups of countries:
- Group 1 describes countries with a negative correlation: the more people that stayed at home, the less COVID-19 was spreading. Countries in this group included Turkey, Canada and many European countries.
- Group 2 describes countries with a positive correlation: the more people that stayed at home, the more COVID-19 was spreading. Countries included are e.g. Argentina, South Africa or Kazakhstan.
- Group 3 describes countries with a “U-shaped” correlation: the effects of restrictions on people moving on hampering the spread of the virus where highest at modest levels of restrictions, while complete lockdowns as well as no or only little restrictions resulted in a higher level of the virus spreading. Countries included Sweden, India and Brasil.
The researchers concluded that an analysis of the correlation between mobility and disease spread at regional level would help to define the optimal level of mobility restrictions to minimise the spread of COVID19 in specific regions.
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Article published first at EurekAlert! on 22 June 2022.