Super-spreader fears ignited after bombshell study – ‘Beyond what we could have imagined’
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According to preliminary research from Hong Kong, 70 percent of people infected with the potentially deadly virus did not pass it on to anyone else.
The study suggests the vast majority of infections occurred via the same people and events.
The research, which has not yet been peer-reviewed and scrutinised by experts, assessed more than 1,000 infections in Hong Kong between January 23 to April 28.
Through detailed contact tracing, they determined the most likely place and time when someone became infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.
It was in the research they found super spreading events to be the main form of transmission in the city.
Ben Cowling, study co-author, told Business Insider: “That’s the picture we have so far.
“Super spreading events are happening more than we expected, more than what could be explained by chance.
“The frequency of super spreading is beyond what we could have imagined.”
The study found that 70 percent of infected people didn’t pass on the disease.
And, 20 percent of COVID-19 patients were responsible for 80 percent of transmissions.
The other 10 percent were to blame for 20 percent of transmissions – through close contact with family and people who live or work in the same building.
The study claimed: “Social exposure produced a greater number of secondary cases compared to family or work exposures.”
Professor Cowling went on to explain to the New York Times how the ‘R’ rate of infections doesn’t “convey the vast range” of how some people transmit the virus while others don’t.
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He said: “[The RO number] doesn’t convey the vast range between how much some infected people transmit the virus and how little others do.
“This is why epidemiologists also look at a virus’s dispersion factor, known as ‘k’, which captures that range and so, too, the potential for super spreading events.
“To simplify: The fewer number of cases of infection responsible for all transmissions, the lower k generally is (though other factors, like the RO, also are relevant).”
Although the research was undertaken in Hong Kong, the experts believe it can be applied globally.
A Lancet-published study also found 80 percent of super spreading events were the primary the cause of the transmitting the virus.
Events such as choir meetings, gym classes and business conferences were classified as ‘super spreading events’ by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
In Washington, 87 percent of 61 singers in a choir rehearsal all were infected with the potentially deadly virus.
Although super spreading is known to occur in care homes, hospitals and religious places, scientists believe there are other unusual events which can lead to clusters of cases.
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