The Concept of Dynamic Physical Hyperconnectivity through Travel Mobility: An Explanatory Hypothesis for the Emergence of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Document Type : Hypothesis


Faculty of Medicine University of Colombo



Pandemics, such as the emergence of COVID-19, have their roots in the intricate interplay across animals, humans and the environment. The transition from epidemics to full-blown pandemics can be visualized as the proliferation and spread of transmissions across a web of interlinked networks. These networks encompass not only human-human interactions but also encompass animals, inanimate objects, and elements within the environment. Human civilization has seen an unprecedented increase in the mobilities of humans, animals and artefacts, and formation of innumerable interconnections across them as well as with the environment. Furthermore, there is widespread expansions of these networks, and a global reach. These are in a state of constant flux due to increasing mobilities of their individual nodes as well as their corresponding networks. The interactions occur across predefined pathways (eg. along transport routes) or more randomly (eg. floating atmospheric pollutants). The concept of "Dynamic Physical Hyperconnectivity" is proposed to capture the situation when there is synchronisation or approximation of these high-mobility networks, creating the environment for very close physical connectivities of nodes across adjacent networks. If multiple networks coincide, the connectivities can occur across the globe. This hypothesis could explain the swift worldwide spread of COVID-19 virus during the pandemic, and is supported by preliminary data. If this is proven with modelling, it implies that mitigation of pandemics such as COVID-19 requires a multifaceted approach that curtails the velocity of agent mobility, minimise interaction frequencies, reduces node mobility scope, and disentangles interwoven networks.