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SARS-CoV-2 rapidly spreads among humans via social networks, with social mixing and network characteristics potentially facilitating transmission. However, limited data on topological structural features has hindered in-depth studies. Existing research is based on snapshot analyses, preventing temporal investigations of network changes. Comparing network characteristics over time offers additional insights into transmission dynamics. We examined confirmed COVID-19 patients from an eastern Chinese province, analyzing social mixing and network characteristics using transmission network topology before and after widespread interventions. Between the two time periods, the percentage of singleton networks increased from 38.9$ \% $ to 62.8$ \% $$ (p<0.001) $; the average shortest path length decreased from 1.53 to 1.14 $ (p<0.001) $; the average betweenness reduced from 0.65 to 0.11$ (p<0.001) $; the average cluster size dropped from 4.05 to 2.72 $ (p=0.004) $; and the out-degree had a slight but nonsignificant decline from 0.75 to 0.63 $ (p=0.099). $ Results show that nonpharmaceutical interventions effectively disrupted transmission networks, preventing further disease spread. Additionally, we found that the networks’ dynamic structure provided more information than solely examining infection curves after applying descriptive and agent-based modeling approaches. In summary, we investigated social mixing and network characteristics of COVID-19 patients during different pandemic stages, revealing transmission network heterogeneities.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) asymptomatic cases are hard to identify, impeding transmissibility estimation. The value of COVID-19 transmissibility is worth further elucidation for key assumptions in further modelling studies. Through a population-based surveillance network, we collected data on 1342 confirmed cases with a 90-days follow-up for all asymptomatic cases. An age-stratified compartmental model containing contact information was built to estimate the transmissibility of symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 cases. The difference in transmissibility of a symptomatic and asymptomatic case depended on age and was most distinct for the middle-age groups. The asymptomatic cases had a 66.7% lower transmissibility rate than symptomatic cases, and 74.1% (95% CI 65.9–80.7) of all asymptomatic cases were missed in detection. The average proportion of asymptomatic cases was 28.2% (95% CI 23.0–34.6). Simulation demonstrated that the burden of asymptomatic transmission increased as the epidemic continued and could potentially dominate total transmission. The transmissibility of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases is high and asymptomatic COVID-19 cases play a significant role in outbreaks.
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