A new more transmissible version of the coronavirus has been reported in several countries and now a new study has established that the viral strain’s transmissibility and a region’s population density will be vital in designing vaccination programs.
The study findings suggest that targeting vaccines to densely populated regions can help curb transmission of the SAR-CoV-2. Notably, vaccination distribution programs are not taking into account the population density of a region.
Population density plays a role in the spread of coronavirus
University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Tony Ives and data research firm Wildlife Analysis GmbH’s Claudio Bozzuto studied the spread of coronavirus in the US at the start of the pandemic before the change in people’s behavior to avoid contracting the disease. Interestingly this allowed them to uncover factors that affect the transmission of the virus when social distancing and masking and normal life resumes.
Ives an integrative biology professor said that they were looking to understand the dynamics at the beginning of the pandemic. He explained that vaccination programs letting people act normally as it was pre-pandemic should understand the state under such conditions. The other thing researchers were looking at is getting a small spatial scale of counties rather than states.
Going through the county by count data from across 39 states, Ives and Bozzuto established that the higher the population density of a county the more easily COVID-19 was spreading between people. Notably, the spread has been quantified in the virus’s basic reproduction number, which is a measure of the average number of people an infected person can infect.
SARS-CoV-2 transmissibility depends on viral strain
Similarly, researchers also found that transmissibility depended on the viral strain. Regions that hosted a large portion of the strains that contained the G614 mutation had higher viral spread. This finding was supported by other research that has demonstrated that the strain is easily transmitted. Although the G614 strain is not related to the B.1.1.7 strain recently identified in the UK that seems to be spreading faster, the study demonstrates the role viral strain plays in the overall spread of the virus.