The original R0 calculation was developed in the early 1900s to model malaria transmission and is known as the Ross-MacDonald model so your idea is over 100 years old. The model was very famous for identifying the optimal strategy for malarial control by targeting the adult mosquito rather than the mosquito larvae. What it said was reducing the mosquito population and reducing malaria transmission were two different issues. So the bednet strategy is based in this idea and particularly spraying the inside of houses with insecticide.
R0 was famously used in the 1980s to predict the HIV pandemic when WHO thought it would remain localised in Africa.
The problem with R0 and Coronaviruses is we don't know the asymptomatic population who could also transmit the virus.
This population is potentially very large. Epidemiologists will attempt extrapolation from cruise ship quarrentine, eg the Diamond Princess where everyone is tested to understand this transmission parameter and project this onto the rest of the planet. Clearly this could have limitations or inaccuracies. The other issue I am baffled by is seasonal transmission and whether this will occur with COVID-19.
One thing R0 of COVID-19 will identify is the latent period transmission which occurs before the symptoms, i.e. the incubation period. Essentially, people with cough/mild symptoms before they self isolate and become really ill with a lung infection will transmit the virus. In this context R0 will be/was very influential for understanding when to move between quarrentine and containment phases of the pandemic.