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Integrated vaccination and physical distancing interventions to prevent future COVID-19 waves in Chinese cities.

Abstract

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has posed substantial challenges to the formulation of preventive interventions, particularly since the effects of physical distancing measures and upcoming vaccines on reducing susceptible social contacts and eventually halting transmission remain unclear. Here, using anonymized mobile geolocation data in China, we devise a mobility-associated social contact index to quantify the impact of both physical distancing and vaccination measures in a unified way. Building on this index, our epidemiological model reveals that vaccination combined with physical distancing can contain resurgences without relying on stay-at-home restrictions, whereas a gradual vaccination process alone cannot achieve this. Further, for cities with medium population density, vaccination can reduce the duration of physical distancing by 36% to 78%, whereas for cities with high population density, infection numbers can be well-controlled through moderate physical distancing. These findings improve our understanding of the joint effects of vaccination and physical distancing with respect to a city's population density and social contact patterns.

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