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Contacts in context: large-scale setting-specific social mixing matrices from the BBC Pandemic project

By Petra Klepac, Adam J Kucharski, Andrew JK Conlan, Stephen Kissler, Maria L Tang, Hannah Fry, Julia R Gog

Posted 19 Feb 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.02.16.20023754

Social mixing patterns are crucial in driving transmission of infectious diseases and informing public health interventions to contain their spread. Age-specific social mixing is often inferred from surveys of self-recorded contacts which by design often have a very limited number of participants. In addition, such surveys are rare, so public health interventions are often evaluated by considering only one such study. Here we report detailed population contact patterns for United Kingdom based self-reported contact data from over 36,000 volunteers that participated in the massive citizen science project BBC Pandemic. The amount of data collected allows us generate fine-scale age-specific population contact matrices by context (home, work, school, other) and type (conversational or physical) of contact that took place. These matrices are highly relevant for informing prevention and control of new outbreaks, and evaluating strategies that reduce the amount of mixing in the population (such as school closures, social distancing, or working from home). In addition, they finally provide the possibility to use multiple sources of social mixing data to evaluate the uncertainty that stems from social mixing when designing public health interventions.

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