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Human mobility was considerably reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. To support disease surveillance, it is important to understand the effect of mobility on transmission.


We compared the role of mobility during the first and second COVID-19 wave in Switzerland by studying the link between daily travel distances and the effective reproduction number () of SARS-CoV-2.


We used aggregated mobile phone data from a representative panel survey of the Swiss population to measure human mobility. We estimated the effects of reductions in daily travel distance on via a regression model. We compared mobility effects between the first (2 March–7 April 2020) and second wave (1 October–10 December 2020).


Daily travel distances decreased by 73% in the first and by 44% in the second wave (relative to February 2020). For a 1% reduction in average daily travel distance, was estimated to decline by 0.73% (95% credible interval (CrI): 0.34–1.03) in the first wave and by 1.04% (95% CrI: 0.66–1.42) in the second wave. The estimated mobility effects were similar in both waves for all modes of transport, travel purposes and sociodemographic subgroups but differed for movement radius.


Mobility was associated with SARS-CoV-2 during the first two epidemic waves in Switzerland. The relative effect of mobility was similar in both waves, but smaller mobility reductions in the second wave corresponded to smaller overall reductions in . Mobility data from mobile phones have a continued potential to support real-time surveillance of COVID-19.


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