Corona ‘superspreaders’ are to blame for pandemic, Israeli study finds

It is not yet known what causes someone to become a superspreader.

By Aaron Sull, World Israel News

At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, many researchers believed an infected individual can only spread the disease to a few people, but a new study shows that some individuals, known as “superspreaders,” can infect an undetermined amount of people.

The study, conducted by Tel Aviv University’s School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology, followed the genetic sequences of coronavirus samples from 200 Israeli patients. They were able to track the virus’s origin to the person who brought it with them from overseas.

The study showed that over 80 percent of them were infected by 1 to 10 percent of foreign superspreaders.

A similar Chinese study published on the website Research Square also showed the majority of those infected came from a select number of superspreaders.

Based on a sample size of a little over 1,000 coronavirus patients, the researchers deduced that 80 percent of them were infected by superspreaders.

The researchers also found 70 percent of those tested with the coronavirus didn’t pass it on to anyone else.

“That’s the picture we have so far,” Ben Cowling, one of the study’s co-authors, told Business Insider. “Superspreading events are happening more than we expected, more than what could be explained by chance. The frequency of superspreading is beyond what we could have imagined.”

“Now we know which measures might give you the most bang for your buck – if we could stop the superspreading from happening, we’d benefit the most people,” he added.

It is not yet known if there is a limit to the number of people a superspreader can infect, nor is it clear as to what causes someone to become a superspreader.

“Super spreaders are people who for whatever reason, immunologically, anatomically, socially tend to infect a lot of people,” George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology at UC San Francisco, told Sacramento’s KXTV.

“The normal person in the pre-shutdown days would have infected three or four other people. Superspreaders can infect 30 or 40, there’s one guy who infected 113 people in New York,” he said.