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Coronavirus Explainers

Coronavirus Explained: What Are Super-Spreaders And How Are They Responsible For COVID-19 Transmission?

In the context of a human-borne illness, like COVID-19, a super spreader is an individual who is more likely to infect others, compared with other typically infected people

Coronavirus Explained: What Are Super-Spreaders And How Are They Responsible For COVID-19 Transmission?
  • Super spreaders can infect a large number of people
  • Super spreaders are that way due to their immune system: Expert
  • There is no way to detect who is a super spreader: Expert

New Delhi: Among all the questions about the origin and transmission of the virus, lies the role of super spreaders and how are they responsible for continuing the spread of COVID-19. Dr Samay Bharadwaj, explains to NDTV, that a super-spreader is an unusually contagious organism infected with a disease. He added,

“In the context of a human-borne illness, like COVID-19, a super spreader is an individual who is more likely to infect others, compared with other typically infected people. Super spreaders transmit the infection to a large number of people and are of particular concern in epidemiology.”

As per Centre of Disease Control, Epidemiology is the branch of medicine which deals with the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health.

Also Read: Experts Explain The Different COVID-19 Tests: Rapid Antigen Vs RT-PCR Test, Which Is Better?

Dr Bharadwaj further said that some patients are super-spreaders as they have a virus which is slightly different and more severe. And when they come in contact with many people without taking any precautions like wearing a face mask, sanitisation and social distancing, they are spreading the virus, at a high rate. He said,

Everyone’s body and immune system reacts differently when it comes to the transmission of infectious diseases. It is a known fact in the medical field, that at least one in five people, transmit infections to far more people than the rest. Some studies show that super-spreaders are also that way due to their immune system, which may not be good at suppressing the virus or, on the other hand, maybe so good, that they remain asymptomatic but continue transmitting the virus to others. But this is likely to be caused by factors such as contracting a higher dose of the virus in the first place or being infected with more than one pathogen.

However, Dr Bharadwaj says that there is no way to detect who is a super spreader.

Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak Explained: What Is A Coronavirus And COVID-19?

Dr Bharadwaj also explained that certain events and gathering may also be referred to as ‘super spreader events’, these include usually large gatherings or birthday parties, where social distance may not be possible.  He says,

At such events, the number of cases transmitted may be disproportionately high as compared to general transmission. This could be due to the fact that multiple super spreaders may be present at the event, who may be in close contact with several people at once.

If any gathering – indoor or outdoor, that is crowded, and people are without personal protective equipment like masks, those are high-risk areas that can be super spreader events, Dr Bharadwaj added.

He says that while there are super-spreaders for all infectious disease, COVID-19 is known to be extremely contagious and thus it is a more threatening situation at present.

The world has been in the grip of COVID-19 pandemic since January, due to the highly contagious nature of the virus. We all know that the disease is primarily spreading due to humans, which is why we have norms like masks, social distance in place. While dealing with such a crisis, one super spreader can infect tens of numbers of people.

Which is why, Dr Bhardwaj says, the need to wear masks, washing or sanitising hands frequently and ensuring a physical distance of at least 6 feet is recommended across the globe.

Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak Explained: What Is Convalescent Plasma Therapy And How Effective Is It In Treating COVID-19 Patients?

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene


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