(Reuters) – Super-spreader events, in which an infected person transmits the virus to many other people, are critical to the survival and predominance of new variants, researchers have found.
If coronavirus transmission only occurs one person at a time, a new variant is unlikely to gain a foothold and will usually die out in the population by chance, said Daniel Reeves of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
“Even very strong variants can die out if they are ‘unlucky’ and don’t happen by chance to be transmitted in a super-spread event,” he added.
His team’s new mathematical models, posted on medRxiv ahead of peer review, show that early super-spreader events infecting more than five people are critical to a variant’s survival, while super-spreader events infecting more than 20 people are critical to its eventual predominance.
Even a very infectious new variant usually needs a super-spreader event to help it overtake a current variant, Reeves told Reuters.
The findings provide yet another reason to focus on preventing large super-spreader events by prohibiting large indoor gatherings, focusing on adequate ventilation indoors, and mandating highest quality masks (K95 or N95) when group exposures are unavoidable, the researchers concluded.
SOURCE: https://bit.ly/39fZ4C7 medRxiv, online March 24, 2021.
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