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Phylogenetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 in Boston highlights the impact of superspreading events.

Abstract

Analysis of 772 complete SARS-CoV-2 genomes from early in the Boston area epidemic revealed numerous introductions of the virus, a small number of which led to most cases. The data revealed two superspreading events. One, in a skilled nursing facility, led to rapid transmission and significant mortality in this vulnerable population but little broader spread, while other introductions into the facility had little effect. The second, at an international business conference, produced sustained community transmission and was exported, resulting in extensive regional, national, and international spread. The two events also differed significantly in the genetic variation they generated, suggesting varying transmission dynamics in superspreading events. Our results show how genomic epidemiology can help understand the link between individual clusters and wider community spread.

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Citation:

Lemieux JE, Siddle KJ, Shaw BM, Loreth C, Schaffner SF, Gladden-Young A, Adams G, Fink T, Tomkins-Tinch CH, Krasilnikova LA, DeRuff KC, Rudy M, Bauer MR, Lagerborg KA, Normandin E, Chapman SB, Reilly SK, Anahtar MN, Lin AE, Carter A, Myhrvold C, Kemball ME, Chaluvadi S, Cusick C, Flowers K, Neumann A, Cerrato F, Farhat M, Slater D, Harris JB, Branda JA, Hooper D, Gaeta JM, Baggett TP, O'Connell J, Gnirke A, Lieberman TD, Philippakis A, Burns M, Brown CM, Luban J, Ryan ET, Turbett SE, LaRocque RC, Hanage WP, Gallagher GR, Madoff LC, Smole S, Pierce VM, Rosenberg E, Sabeti PC, Park DJ, MacInnis BL. (2020). Phylogenetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 in Boston highlights the impact of superspreading events. Science (New York, N.Y.)