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The Relationship between Mobility and COVID-19 in Germany: Modeling Case Occurrence using Apple's Mobility Trends Data
Background Restrictions on social interaction and movement were implemented by the German government in March 2020 to reduce the transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Apple's “Mobility Trends” (AMT) data details levels of community mobility; it is a novel resource of potential use to epidemiologists.
Objective The aim of the study is to use AMT data to examine the relationship between mobility and COVID-19 case occurrence for Germany. Is a change in mobility apparent following COVID-19 and the implementation of social restrictions? Is there a relationship between mobility and COVID-19 occurrence in Germany?
Methods AMT data illustrates mobility levels throughout the epidemic, allowing the relationship between mobility and disease to be examined. Generalized additive models (GAMs) were established for Germany, with mobility categories, and date, as explanatory variables, and case numbers as response.
Results Clear reductions in mobility occurred following the implementation of movement restrictions. There was a negative correlation between mobility and confirmed case numbers. GAM using all three categories of mobility data accounted for case occurrence as well and was favorable (AIC or Akaike Information Criterion: 2504) to models using categories separately (AIC with “driving,” 2511. “transit,” 2513. “walking,” 2508).
Conclusion These results suggest an association between mobility and case occurrence. Further examination of the relationship between movement restrictions and COVID-19 transmission may be pertinent. The study shows how new sources of online data can be used to investigate problems in epidemiology.
Received: 28 September 2020
Accepted: 22 January 2021
26 March 2021 (online)
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Georg Thieme Verlag KG
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