A ‘Backward’ Approach that Works

“Cluster-busting” approach to contact tracing has paid dividends in Japan and elsewhere in Asia—and is gaining attention in the West, Bloomberg reports.
 
The “backward tracing” approach focuses on exploiting one SARS-CoV-2’s key characteristics: its tendency to spread in clusters. So instead of tracking down individual case contacts—many of whom will not have spread the virus, the focus is on determining where the infection took place—perhaps an indoor event with poor ventilation—which is more likely to reveal other infectious individuals.
 
KJ Seung, a doctor who helps oversee contact tracing in Massachusetts, embraced the “backward” approach after seeing from a Zoom presentation by Tohoku University’s Hitoshi Oshitani, a central player in Japan’s response.  
 
The Takeaway: “When there are too many cases to trace... Focus on the forest, not the trees (says Oshitani),” Seung noted in a Twitter thread.

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