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The effect of network mixing patterns on epidemic dynamics and the efficacy of disease contact tracing.

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 22:32 authored by Istvan Kiss, Darren M Green, Rowland R Kao
In networks, nodes may preferentially contact other nodes with similar (assortatively mixed) or dissimilar (disassortatively mixed) numbers of contacts. Different patterns of contact support different epidemic dynamics, potentially affecting the efficacy of control measures such as contact tracing, which aims to identify and isolate nodes with infectious contacts. We used stochastic simulations to investigate the effects of mixing patterns on epidemic dynamics and contact-tracing efficacy. For uncontrolled epidemics, outbreaks occur at lower infection rates for more assortatively mixed networks, with faster initial epidemic growth rate and shorter epidemic duration than for disassortatively mixed networks. Contact tracing performs better for assortative mixing where epidemic size is large and tracing rate low, but it performs better for disassortative mixing at higher contact rates. For assortatively mixed networks, disease spreads first to highly connected nodes, but this is balanced by contact tracing quickly identifying these same nodes. The converse is true for disassortative mixing, where both disease and tracing are less likely to target highly connected nodes. For small epidemics, contact tracing is more effective on disassortative networks due to the greater resilience of assortative networks to link removal. Multi-step contact tracing is more effective than single-step tracing for assortative mixing, but this effect is smaller for disassortatively mixed networks.


Publication status

  • Published


Journal of the Royal Society Interface







Page range

791 - 799



Department affiliated with

  • Mathematics Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

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