Engagement and adherence trade-offs for SARS-CoV-2 contact tracing

Tim C D Lucas*, Emma L Davis, Diepreye Ayabina, Anna Borlase, Thomas Crellen, Li Pi, Graham Medley, Lucy Yardley, Petra Klepac, Julia Gog, T Déirdre Hollingsworth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

Abstract

Contact tracing is an important tool for allowing countries to ease lockdown policies introduced to combat SARS-CoV-2. For contact tracing to be effective, those with symptoms must self-report themselves while their contacts must self-isolate when asked. However, policies such as legal enforcement of self-isolation can create trade-offs by dissuading individuals from self-reporting. We use an existing branching process model to examine which aspects of contact tracing adherence should be prioritised. We consider an inverse relationship between self-isolation adherence and self-reporting engagement, assuming that increasingly strict self-isolation policies will result in fewer individuals self-reporting to the programme. We find that policies that increase the verage duration of self-isolation, or that increase the probability that people self-isolate at all, at the expense of reduced self-reporting rate, will not decrease the risk of a large outbreak and may increase the risk, depending on the strength of the trade-off. These results suggest that policies to increase self-isolation adherence should be implemented carefully. Policies that increase self-isolation adherence at the cost of self-reporting rates should be avoided.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.Funding StatementContact tracing is an important tool for allowing countries to ease lockdown policies introduced to combat SARS-CoV-2. For contact tracing to be effective, those with symptoms must self-report themselves while their contacts must self-isolate when asked. However, policies such as legal enforcement of self-isolation can create trade-offs by dissuading individuals from self-reporting. We use an existing branching process model to examine which aspects of contact tracing adherence should be prioritised. We consider an inverse relationship between self-isolation adherence and self-reporting engagement, assuming that increasingly strict self-isolation policies will result in fewer individuals self-reporting to the programme. We find that policies that increase the average duration of self-isolation, or that increase the probability that people self-isolate at all, at the expense of reduced self-reporting rate, will not decrease the risk of a large outbreak and may increase the risk, depending on the strength of the trade-off. These results suggest that policies to increase self-isolation adherence should be implemented carefully. Policies that increase self-isolation adherence at the cost of self-reporting rates should be avoided. Author DeclarationsI confirm all relevant ethical guidelines have been followed, and any necessary IRB and/or ethics committee approvals have been obtained.YesThe details of the IRB/oversight body that provided approval or exemption for the research described are given below:noneAll necessary patient/participant consent has been obtained and the appropriate institutional forms have been archived.YesI understand that all clinical trials and any other prospective interventional studies must be registered with an ICMJE-approved registry, such as ClinicalTrials.gov. I confirm that any such study reported in the manuscript has been registered and the trial registration ID is provided (note: if posting a prospective study registered retrospectively, please provide a statement in the trial ID field explaining why the study was not registered in advance).Yes I have followed all appropriate research reporting guidelines and uploaded the relevant EQUATOR Network research reporting checklist(s) and other pertinent material as supplementary files, if applicable.YesAll simulation code is available on github. No data other than simulated data was used.https://github.com/timcdlucas/ringbp/tree/adherence_tradeoff_runs
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhilosophical Transactions B: Biological Sciences
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 26 Oct 2020

Structured keywords

  • Physical and Mental Health

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • contact tracing,
  • branching processes
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • adherence
  • engagement
  • case isolation
  • quarantine

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