Effectiveness of a COVID-19 contact tracing app in a simulation model with indirect and informal contact tracing

Ka Yin Leung*, Esther Metting, Wolfgang Ebbers, Irene Veldhuijzen, Stijn P. Andeweg, Guus Luijben, Marijn de Bruin, Jacco Wallinga, Don Klinkenberg

*Corresponding author for this work

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, contact tracing was used to identify individuals who had been in contact with a confirmed case so that these contacted individuals could be tested and quarantined to prevent further spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Many countries developed mobile apps to find these contacted individuals faster. We evaluate the epidemiological effectiveness of the Dutch app CoronaMelder, where we measure effectiveness as the reduction of the reproduction number R. To this end, we use a simulation model of SARS-CoV-2 spread and contact tracing, informed by data collected during the study period (December 2020 - March 2021) in the Netherlands. We show that the tracing app caused a clear but small reduction of the reproduction number, and the magnitude of the effect was found to be robust in sensitivity analyses. The app could have been more effective if more people had used it, and if notification of contacts could have been done directly by the user and thus reducing the time intervals between symptom onset and reporting of contacts. The model has two innovative aspects: i) it accounts for the clustered nature of social networks and ii) cases can alert their contacts informally without involvement of health authorities or the tracing app.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100735
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

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