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The Knowledge-Sharing Platform

15 Jul 2020

JRC studies look at relation between human mobility and coronavirus spread

The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) has published three new studies explaining the relationship between human mobility and the spread of coronavirus, as well as the effectiveness of mobility restriction measures to contain the pandemic. The studies were published on 14 July 2020.

The findings of the studies are based on aggregated and anonymised mobile phone location data, provided by 14 mobile network operators in 19 EU Member States and Norway. The JRC then carried out a systematic analysis of the relationship between human mobility and the virus spread, and a comparative cross-country analysis of the efficiency of containment measures. The main findings were the following:

  • The data has provided clear evidence on the impact of mobility on the spread of the virus. It shows that mobility alone can explain the initial spread of the virus in Italy, France and Spain.
  • The results also show that the containment measures taken by governments and regions, including physical distancing and mobility restrictions, were efficient in limiting the spread of the virus.
  • It also emerged that when physical distancing measures were put in place, the mobility factor became less important in defining the spread of the virus.

The findings are intended to support policymakers in formulating the best data-driven approaches for ending confinement, mapping the socio-economic effects of lockdown measures and informing early warning systems for potential new outbreaks. The JRC will carry out additional studies and invites Mobile Network Operators to join the initiative to cover more countries.

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