Estimated effectiveness of traveller screening to prevent international spread of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)


Traveller screening is being used to limit further global spread of 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV) following its recent emergence. Here, we analyze the expected impact of different travel screening programs given remaining uncertainty around the values of key nCoV life history and epidemiological parameters. Even under best-case assumptions, we estimate that screening will miss around half of infected travellers. Breaking down the factors leading to screening successes and failures, we find that most cases missed by screening are fundamentally undetectable, because they have not yet developed symptoms and are unaware they were exposed. These findings emphasize the need for measures to track travellers who become ill after being missed by a travel screening program. We make our model available for interactive use so stakeholders can explore scenarios of interest using the most up-to-date information. We hope these findings contribute to evidence-based policy to combat the spread of nCoV, and to prospective planning to mitigate future emerging pathogens.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.Funding StatementKG was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship in the program for understanding dynamic & multiscale systems from the James S. McDonnell foundation. AJK was supported by a Sir Henry Dale Fellowship jointly funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Royal Society (grant Number 206250/Z/17/Z). ROM and JOL-S was supported by NSF grants OCE-1335657 and DEB-1557022, SERDP RC-2635, and DARPA PREEMPT D18AC00031.Author DeclarationsAll relevant ethical guidelines have been followed; any necessary IRB and/or ethics committee approvals have been obtained and details of the IRB/oversight body are included in the manuscript.YesAll necessary patient/participant consent has been obtained and the appropriate institutional forms have been archived.YesI understand that all clinical trials and any other prospective interventional studies must be registered with an ICMJE-approved registry, such as I confirm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 relevant code is available at The model does not input any case data. All relevant inputs are present in the code, and described in Table 1 or in the manuscript text.

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