The Unsolved Mystery of Superspreaders

Superspreader events have long been recognized as a key player in this pandemic.
Lengthy indoor gatherings, poor ventilation, and activities like singing and aerobic exercise help these events along, Nature reports.
But big questions remain on how much individual behavior or biology play into these events:

  • A PNAS study with nearly 200 healthy people found 20% of study participants were responsible for 80% of aerosols emitted.

  • Using anonymized mobile phone location data of 100 million Americans over 2 months, a Stanford team published a Nature study showing that restaurants, cafes, and gyms can play an outsized role in transmission.

Working Backwards: Japan had big success taking on superspreader events with a cluster-focused “backwards contact tracing,” which focuses on finding the source of an infection, rather than focusing on people who might become infected.

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