At its core, contact tracing is a form of egocentric network analysis (ENA). One of the biggest obstacles for ENA is informant accuracy (i.e., amount of true contacts identified), which is even more prominent for interaction-based network ties because they often represent episodic relational events, rather than enduring relational states. This research examines the effect of informant accuracy on the spread of COVID-19 through an egocentric, agent-based model. Overall when the average person transmits COVID-19 to 1.62 other people (i.e., the R0), they must be, on average, 75% accurate with naming their contacts. In higher transmission contexts (i.e., transmitting to at least two other people), the results show that multi-level tracing (i.e., contact tracing the contacts) is the only viable strategy. Finally, sensitivity analysis shows that the effectiveness of contact tracing is negatively impacted by the timing and overall percent of asymptomatic cases. Overall, the results suggest that if contact tracing is to be effective, it must be fast, accurate, and accompanied by other interventions like mask-wearing to drive down the average R0.

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Published in Connections, v. 41, issue 1.

© 2021 Authors

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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This research was supported by the National Center for Research Resources and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health, through Grant UL1TR001998.

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