How adherence to public health measures shapes epidemic spreading: A temporal network model

Brandon M. Behring, Alessandro Rizzo, Maurizio Porfiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the importance of non-pharmaceutical interventions in the containment of airborne infectious diseases. Social distancing and mask-wearing have been found to contain COVID-19 spreading across a number of observational studies, but a precise understanding of their combined effectiveness is lacking. An underdeveloped area of research entails the quantification of the specific role of each of these measures when they are differentially adopted by the population. Pursuing this research allows for answering several pressing questions like: how many people should follow public health measures for them to be effective for everybody? Is it sufficient to practice social distancing only or just wear a mask? Here, we make a first step in this direction, by establishing a susceptible-exposed-infected-removed epidemic model on a temporal network, evolving according to the activity-driven paradigm. Through analytical and numerical efforts, we study epidemic spreading as a function of the proportion of the population following public health measures, the extent of social distancing, and the efficacy of masks in protecting the wearer and others. Our model demonstrates that social distancing and mask-wearing can be effective in preventing COVID-19 outbreaks if adherence to both measures involves a substantial fraction of the population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number043115
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Applied Mathematics


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