You're Most Likely to Get COVID From People This Age, New Study Shows

These is the age group most responsible for coronavirus spread.

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Since the pandemic began, there have been endless questions not just about how COVID spreads but about who exactly is spreading it. After all, one of the keys to slowing down coronavirus transmission is knowing where it's coming from. Are you more likely to contract the virus from your kid or a coworker? Now, new research has provided a clearer picture of which age group you're most likely to get COVID from. According to a new study, adults between the ages of 20 and 45 are the primary source of coronavirus spread.

The large contact tracing study involving more than three million people in India was published in the journal Science on Sept. 30. Researchers collected data through Aug. 1 and found that most secondary cases were the result of contact with index cases in people aged 20 to 45.

"The young to middle adult age group is the one that is coming into contact with people. They are the people most likely to be outside the household. They are the ones taking the disease from one place to the other," study leader Ramanan Laxminarayan, PhD, founder and director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy, told CNN.

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The researchers also found that most coronavirus patients (70.7 percent) never actually go on to infect anyone else. According to Laxminarayan and his colleagues, 60 percent of new infections were caused by only 8 percent of existing coronavirus patients.

"That's a hugely disproportionate effect," he explained. "Superspreading has been suspected, but not really documented."

Superspreader scenarios have been a major topic of discussion surrounding coronavirus spread. There have been many widely reported incidents involving one COVID-positive person infecting dozens of other people. For example, one of the first highly reported cases of coronavirus spread was in Washington state, where one symptomatic index patient infected more than 50 people during a choir practice. And in Chicago, one person became a superspreader after transmitting the virus to 15 others through attending a dinner, funeral, and birthday party while infected.

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Researchers found that children were also likely to spread the coronavirus, falling in line with a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—both of which contradict previous research and beliefs that children don't play a large part in the coronavirus pandemic.

Laxminarayan said the study concluded that children are "getting infected in significant numbers," and earlier this week, the CDC stated that "young persons might be playing an increasingly important role in community transmission" for COVID in a new report released Sept. 28. However, children aren't likely to be the main source of spread overall, because they're most likely to only infect other children.

"While the role of children in transmission has been debated, we identify high prevalence of infection among children who were contacts of cases around their own age," researchers stated in the new study. And for more on how coronavirus continues to spread, New Evidence Shows How COVID Can Spread Outdoors.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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