Day 56 – Superspreading

Not much here today, but I did enjoy the back-to-basics lessons available in this Sciencemag article.

It’s all about how certain individuals and certain situations are more likely to spread the virus than others. And while we’re not 100% sure of the reason for some people spread more virus than others:

Some people shed far more virus, and for a longer period of time, than others, perhaps because of differences in their immune system or the distribution of virus receptors in their body. A 2019 study of healthy people showed some breathe out many more particles than others when they talk… People’s behaviour also plays a role. Having many social contacts or not washing your hands makes you more likely to pass on the virus.

…it’s very much a reason that the virus gets passed on more quickly in some situations. These people don’t know they’re doing it and they don’t have a big red flashing light above their heads, but with quotes like:

“Probably about 10% of cases lead to 80% of the spread”

…if you’re not wearing a mask while you’re out and about, you’re very much part of the problem.

Especially if you are exercising. Surprise, surprise, the more energetic your breathing, the more virus you expel. So runners are the ones who are more likely to be spewing clouds of virus out. So those runners who are “unable” to cover their faces while they run because “it’s not very comfy” are potentially putting a lot of other people at risk.

Nice. Thanks, you precious, selfish twats.

As I shared just yesterday, the Washington Post described three superspreading events as being one reason why Cape Town has so many cases of Covid-19 at the moment. So there’s so much local relevance here.

But perhaps my favourite “OMG, that’s so obvious” moment was the meat-packing plant connection. Meat-packing plants are the perfect place for respiratory viruses for two reasons:
Firstly, they are cool (temperature-wise, rather than in trendiness), meaning that virus particles remain intact – and infectious – for longer, and
Secondly, because the machinery in the plants is loud and so workers have to talk more loudly to be heard. Louder voice (shouting, singing, deep breathing, panting) means you’re more likely to expel virus.

Amazingly simple. Amazingly obvious.
I love that someone actually had the sense to take it back that far.

Anyway, like I said: good article.
Wear a mask. Be lekker.

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