Since the beginning of the current coronavirus pandemic, scientists have been struggling to understand the spread of the novel SARS-CoV-2 from one person to another. Although they have discovered a number of factors that play a part in coronavirus transmission, it is still argued that a lot is still unknown and further investigation is required on the subject.
With each passing week, new studies show results that either stay consistent with previous findings or give entirely contrasting conclusions. Now, recent research conducted by a collaborative team of health experts from India and the US has highlighted how the patterns of spread may not be like they are previously assumed.
The current research on the spread of the coronavirus shows that any infected person can spread the coronavirus and that the risk of transmission can be significantly lowered by simply following the suggested preventive measures.
There are a number of studies that show that everyday trivial steps such as wearing a mask in public and frequent hand washing can make big difference during health epidemics and can lower the rate of spread of a specific pathogen.
However, in the case of coronavirus, the recent study, which is published in the journal Science, shows that most people do not transmit the virus further to other people. In fact, the findings suggest that only a limited number of people or who are also known as ‘super spreaders’ are responsible for causing outbreaks and have a big part in the start of the global pandemic.
To reach this conclusion, the team of researchers examined the tracing history and data of over eighty thousand coronavirus patients in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
After analyzing, the researchers discovered that seventy-one percent of the infected people did not transmit the virus further to other people. Instead, only eight percent of the patients were responsible for sixty percent of all of the infections.
The leading author of the study, Ramanan Laxminarayan, commented on these results, saying that they highlight the impact of super spreading events and their overall major contribution to the spread of coronavirus around the globe.
They further show the importance of avoiding events and gatherings as they are usually responsible for infecting people who later become super spreader and infect a large number of people they come into contact with.
In addition to these findings, the study also found that younger adults and children were the most likely to transmit the virus even though they had the lowest risk of developing a severe form of coronavirus infection and dying from it. Overall, kids and young adults make up one-third of the coronavirus cases.
Prior to this study, there have been various reports linking the spread of the virus to a limited number of super spreaders. For instance, research from Hong Kong showed that nearly eighty percent of the country’s cases were caused by only twenty percent of the infected people.
Several incidents in the US have also traced over fifty infections back to a single event such as a wedding or even joint singing practices.