Cryptic transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and the first COVID-19 wave

Complexity Digest

Jessica T. Davis, Matteo Chinazzi, Nicola Perra, Kunpeng Mu, Ana Pastore y Piontti, Marco Ajelli, Natalie E. Dean, Corrado Gioannini, Maria Litvinova, Stefano Merler, Luca Rossi, Kaiyuan Sun, Xinyue Xiong, Ira M. Longini Jr, M. Elizabeth Halloran, Cécile Viboud & Alessandro Vespignani
Nature (2021)

Considerable uncertainty surrounds the timeline of introductions and onsets of local transmission of SARS-CoV-2 globally1–7. Although a limited number of SARS-CoV-2 introductions were reported in January and February 20208,9, the narrowness of the initial testing criteria, combined with a slow growth in testing capacity and porous travel screening10, left many countries vulnerable to unmitigated, cryptic transmission. Here we use a global metapopulation epidemic model to provide a mechanistic understanding of the early dispersal of infections, and the temporal windows of the introduction and onset of SARS-CoV-2 local transmission in Europe and the United States. We find that community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 was likely in several areas…

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