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Explain the phenomenon of ‘superhuman infection’: Why do people spread the virus more than ordinary people?


According to recent information, a British businessman named Steve Walsh appears to have been infected with the corona virus in Singapore. Later, he went to France, Switzerland and returned to England. On the way, Mr. Walsh infected 11 people and was nicknamed “the super-infectious person” by the Washington Post.

Yesterday (February 11), Mr. Walsh said he was “fully recovered”. The new strain of coronas virus, officially called COVID-19, has infected 44,653 people and caused 1,113 deaths in China. The disease has spread to more than 20 countries, but the hottest spot is still in Hubei province, China.

According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 is spread from person to person through droplets of water from coughs and sneezes. However, researchers are still investigating how highly infectious COVID-19 is. Based on available data, CNBC gives some information below, explaining “super-infected people”.

What is a super-infectious person?

Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Medical Center and a member of the American Infectious Diseases Research Organization, thinks the term “super-infectious person” is a term for people who can pass the virus to others in unusually high numbers. In other words, these people spread “more” effectively than ordinary people.

To determine whether or not a person is highly contagious, it can be based on the type of virus, the type of disease, and the common spread. For example, during the 2003 SARS outbreak, the average person would directly infect an average of about 2.75 others, while a superinfected person would directly infect 10 or more people. In the case of corona virus, experts estimate the average infection is from 1.5 to 3.5 people. However, it is not known what the threshold for superinfected COVID-19 virus is.

* The development of corona virus in China is complicated. You can follow up here.

What makes a person super infected?

Robert Amler, head of the Department of Health Sciences and Practice at New York University School of Medicine and former director of medicine at CDC, thinks there are many different complex factors that make a person “capable” reluctant. this.

Amler thinks the cause could be biological. One person can become infected with many viruses, become infected more quickly and easily than others, and for that reason they can easily infect others around them. Or, if a person has a weak immune system, they may not recover as quickly as everyone else and give the virus more time to spread.

“Another case to consider is the places they go. If a person participates in events in a crowded place, they are more likely to spread the disease to more people.”

For example, during the SARS outbreak, there were 5 cases of superinfection detected in a hospital, one of which was a doctor and was quarantined at a hotel. Mr Walsh is said to have contracted the disease at a business conference in Singapore and spread it to others when he arrived at a resort in France.

Other contagious diseases

The Guardian said that medicine has discovered and recorded many cases of people being super-infectious. In the early 1900s, a woman had spread typhoid to 51 people even though she had no symptoms. Recently, a Finnish high school student spread measles to 22 others in 1998, although 8 of these had been vaccinated. In 1995, two patients were thought to have infected the Ebola virus with 50 others in the Congo. In 2003, during the SARS pandemic, a small number of people infected with the disease made dozens of people infected.

Is there any need to be so worried about people who are super infectious?

Amler said there are generally not many super-infections in the world. However, prevention is still better than cure.

This means that people should still wash their hands often with soap, water or hand soap, avoiding their face, and should stay home if they are sick. Avoid close contact with sick people, cover coughs and use paper when sneezing.

Explain the phenomenon of superhuman infection Why do people spread the virus more than ordinary people | Live

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