Coronavirus cases are mounting all across the globe. However, some countries are certainly doing better than the rest at keeping the infections to a minimum. These countries are taking into account the superspreading events and are using a clever and effective method of contact tracing to highlight the cluster of cases as they emerge.
What Is Superspreading?
The covid-19 virus does not spread uniformly. Most individuals who contract the virus cannot pass it on to somebody else. However, a small percentage of people can spread it widely. According to some reports by the scientists, around 10% of the infected population is accountable for 80% of the infection cases.
Such clusters of infection cases are referred to as superspreading events. What can be defined as a superspreading occurrence depends on how many individuals are there in a particular space, what they are doing, and if they are in close proximity. Also, interestingly enough, not all people produce the same extent of infectious droplets.
How Can Contact Tracing Help?
Identifying and isolating the infected people is the foundation of epidemic control. As most infectious illnesses spread by close contact, reverse contact tracing is an excellent tool that can be used effectively for case identification and control.
Contact tracing is essentially an investigative process, and there are many ways to go about it. If someone tests positive for the virus, forward contact tracing means tracking all the individuals they might have passed the virus on to and telling them to self-quarantine. Backward tracing, on the other hand, aims at finding out the individual who infected the person tested positive.
The idea here is that if they already transferred the virus, the chances are that they infected other people too, considering how superspreading functions. Then their contacts are traced, and they are asked to self-quarantine as well. Thus, backward tracing focuses on identifying the primary source of the freshly detected cases.
Reverse contact tracing is particularly beneficial in cases where there is a high degree of individual-level variation in the number of secondary transmissions. The efficiency of reverse tracing is because of the simple but neglected biases emerging from heterogeneity in contacts.
Where Has Backward Contact Tracing Worked?
Japan and South Korea have been investing a lot of effort into finding superspreading events ever since the initial days of the covid-19 pandemic. Australia has also adopted a dedicated reverse contact-tracing approach in order to minimize their coronavirus cases.
While forward tracing generates instantaneous and high-yield results, backward tracing is incredibly valuable when you are targeting low or no community coronavirus cases. This technique has helped a great deal in discovering the coronavirus clusters and stopping them from expanding any further.
Why Is It Crucial to Understand Superspreading?
Identifying clusters of coronavirus is not simply useful for stopping transmission. Reverse tracing is also important for locating the environments, the settings, where super spreading is taking place. It is commonly being reported to take place in poorly-ventilated indoor spaces such as restaurants, birthday parties, weddings, and nightclubs. Understanding where and how super spreading works can help guide policy decisions. It can assist in devising a more focused approach to controlling the pandemic. The authorities can also use this information to open up safer places, like outdoor meeting settings and well-ventilated indoor spaces. If you are to learn how to live with the covid-19 virus, we have to devise a more nuanced approach to handling the situation.