80 Percent of Coronavirus Cases Can Be Traced Back to This One Thing

New research shows what may be spreading the coronavirus at a higher rate than anything else.

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As warmer weather rolls in and states start to ease up on previous restrictions, some people are looking forward to seeing friends and family face-to-face again. However, the truth is, the coronavirus is still spreading—and those gatherings many people are hoping to attend may actually be the worst offenders when it comes to transmitting and contracting COVID-19. Yes, according to new research, 80 percent of coronavirus cases can be traced back to one thing: "super-spreader" events.

A coronavirus "super-spreader" is an incident during which one person with COVID-19 infects an exceptionally high number of people. After applying a mathematical model to the outbreaks of COVID-19 outside of China, researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Alan Turing Institute estimated that nearly 80 percent of all "secondary transmissions may have been caused by a small fraction of infectious individuals (less than 10 percent)"—AKA super-spreaders.

This is similar to many other infectious diseases—such as HIV, measles, and Ebola—which typically follow a 20/80 rule where 80 percent of cases are caused by 20 percent of people.

"As most infected individuals do not contribute to the expansion of an epidemic, the effective reproduction number could be drastically reduced by preventing relatively rare super-spreading events," the researchers explain in their findings, which were published in the journal Nature. They add that "identifying characteristics of settings that could lead to super-spreading will play a key role in designing effective control strategies."

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One of the first publicized super-spreaders was a choir practice in Mount Vernon, Washington, during early March that resulted in 52 of the 61 attendees contracting COVID-19. Two even died as a result of the virus.

However, there are other similar events that may be causing coronavirus cases to multiply, like birthday parties, funerals, weddings, religious services, and potluck dinners. These high-risk events have been linked to numerous coronavirus outbreaks throughout the country.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the fact that most coronavirus cases are linked back to a few super-spreaders highlights the importance of social distancing recommendations. That's why the CDC says you should try to practice "physical distancing, avoiding group gatherings and crowded places, and wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain" to help control the spread of COVID-19. And for more about where a large number of COVID-19 cases stem from, check out This Is Who's Transmitting 40 Percent of Coronavirus Cases, CDC Says.

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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