The effect of human mobility and control measures on the COVID-19 epidemic in China

Kraemer MUG, Yang C-H, Gutierrez B, Wu C-H, Klein B, Pigott DM, Open COVID-19 Data Working Group, du Plessis L, Faria NR, Li R, Hanage WP, Brownstein JS, Layan M, Vespignani A, Tian H, Dye C, Pybus O, Scarpino V (2020) The effect of human mobility and control measures on the COVID-19 epidemic in China. Science 368(6490): 493–497. DOI:


Bernardo Gutierrez es alumnus y actual profesor USFQ. Se graduó de Ingeniero en Procesos Biotecnológicos en la Universidad San Francisco de Quito USFQ, obtuvo su Maestría en Genética Cuantitativa y Análisis Genómico en The University of Edimburgh y se encuentra desarrollando su PhD en Oxford University. Es profesor del Colegio de Ciencias Biológicas y Ambientales COCIBA-USFQ.


The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak expanded rapidly throughout China. Major behavioral, clinical, and state interventions were undertaken to mitigate the epidemic and prevent the persistence of the virus in human populations in China and worldwide. It remains unclear how these unprecedented interventions, including travel restrictions, affected COVID-19 spread in China. We used real-time mobility data from Wuhan and detailed case data including travel history to elucidate the role of case importation in transmission in cities across China and to ascertain the impact of control measures. Early on, the spatial distribution of COVID-19 cases in China was explained well by human mobility data. After the implementation of control measures, this correlation dropped and growth rates became negative in most locations, although shifts in the demographics of reported cases were still indicative of local chains of transmission outside of Wuhan. This study shows that the drastic control measures implemented in China substantially mitigated the spread of COVID-19.