Coronavirus transmission in India driven by superspreaders

pharmafile | October 1, 2020 | News story | Research and Development  

India’s largest contract tracing study has found that the virus has been transmitted through ‘super spreaders.’

The study was conducted on half a million people by researchers from the Government of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, and their work was published in Science. The study assessed the disease transmission patterns in 575,071 individuals exposed to 84,965 confirmed cases of coronavirus collected by tens of thousands of contact tracers. 

The research showed that over 70% of COVID-19 infected patients in the country did not infect any of their contacts, while 8% of infected individuals accounted for 60% of observed new infections. The study also found deaths have been heavily concentrated in people aged between 40 and 69 compared to higher income countries. Most of the deaths were recorded in people between 50 and 64 years old.

In the states where the study was carried out, 63% of those who died had an underlying condition, while 36% had two or more underlying health conditions that made them more susceptible to being killed by the virus. 45% of those who died were diabetic. 

Ramanan Laxminarayan, a researcher who worked on the study, said: “This study was made possible by the significant contact tracing effort in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, which involved tens of thousands of healthcare workers.

“The results on disease transmission and mortality have the potential to inform policy to fight COVID-19. The study also speaks to the capacity of research emerging from India to help inform the global response to COVID-19.”

Conor Kavanagh

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