Publication date: Jun 15, 2020
The spreading of infectious diseases including COVID-19 depends on human interactions. In an environment where behavioral patterns and physical contacts are constantly evolving according to new governmental regulations, measuring these interactions is a major challenge. Mobility has emerged as an indicator for human activity and, implicitly, for human interactions. Here we study the coupling between mobility and COVID-19 dynamics and show that variations in global air traffic and local car traffic mobility can be used to stratify different disease phases. Our study shows that, for 26 European countries, maximal correlation between driving mobility and disease dynamics follows a normal distribution with a 17-day mean and two-day standard deviation. Our findings suggests that local mobility can serve as a quantitative metric to forecast future reproduction numbers and identify the final stages of the pandemic when mobility and reproduction become decorrelated.