Stopping 'superspreaders' could slam brakes on pandemic, professor says

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Eliminating "superspreading" events in which a single, often asymptomatic person infects large groups of people with COVID-19 would significantly slow the pandemic, scientists told The Washington Post.

Routine COVID-19 transmission consists of one person spreading the virus to a few close contacts. However, a small percentage of people — known as "superspreaders" — can transmit the virus with "alarming efficiency," according to the Post

It's nearly impossible to identify the exact person responsible for such events, but studies have identified some common trends among the likely culprits. Superspreaders are often young, asymptomatic people who attend large social gathers in indoor settings. These individuals may have higher levels of the virus in their bodies than other people, which they release by talking, shouting or singing, scientists said.

Globally, there have been more than 1,000 suspected superspreading events involving COVID-19, some of which have caused thousands of infections, according to a Dutch database cited by the Post

Donald Milton, MD, a professor of environmental health at the University of Maryland in College Park, said understanding how and why these events occur could help health experts decrease the transmission rate enough to contain the virus's spread.

“If you could stop these events, you could stop the pandemic,” Dr. Milton told the Post. “You would crush the curve.”

To view the full article, click here.

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